Friday, May 20, 2016

Carolina Saddlebags

One reason that Erika and I decided to stop for the night, of 22 March 2016, at a hotel next to I-10 in Daphne, Alabama, was that, last year, I found several dragonflies on a nearby dead-end road. The roadsides were sparsely forested. We walked about a quarter mile, with the interstate on one side and a golf course on the other. As we turned to return to the hotel, suddenly we became aware of dozens of flying dragonflies. Erika continued walking as I hoped a few might pose for photographs.

Most were small and dark. An exceptionally large one, bright red, landed nearby. I knew this might be a Carolina Saddlebags. Little did I know how difficult identifying this dragonfly would prove. Basically the black rings at the end of the abdomen are not as wide as those on a Red Saddlebags. The large red patches on the hind wings are unicolored, whereas in a Red Saddlebags tend to have clear windows within their patches. I hallucinated a purplish color on the top of the thorax, which is a diagnostic field mark. Beaton, writing of nearby Georgia, warns, despite the Red Saddlebag’s being very rare in the region, the two species are “probably not always safely separable in the field, and [the Red Saddlebags is] likely overlooked.” I was relieved when Odonata Central vetted my identification.

The Carolina Saddlebags was the only new dragonfly for me this day. I did get photos of the two smaller dragonflies flying over the roadside. To my surprise, when I worked on my photos, I found that I saw two additional species. These dragonflies are on my next post.

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