Monday, June 30, 2014

Plains vs. Midland Clubtail

Scott King and I were unsuccessful in our search for snaketails on our expedition to the Cannon River Wilderness area last Tuesday. We did encounter two Midland Clubtails in a wheel position—the male above almost covering the female’s face as he guards her against fertilization by other males; the female collecting sperm from the male. Scott commented that clubtails usually were more desecrate and were not so often seen in reproductive mode. 
You may recall that a few posts ago I complained about how Midland Clubtains in our part of Minnesota are quite variable in their abdomen patterns. In our region, this diversity can make them difficult to separate from Plains Clubtails. Compare the Midland Clubtail (second photo) and the Plains Clubtail (third photo) that we also found on Tuesday. Scott patiently explained to me the critical differences between the two species. Note the underside of the third abdominal segment is white in the Plains Clubtail—it is usually yellow in the Midland, which tends to have narrower colored bands on the sides of its thorax. This last field mark is not so obvious in my photos.

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