Observation of the Week, 11/24/16

Our Observation of the Week is this Zenithoptera dragonfly, seen in Peru by @cullen!

Cullen Hanks’ involvement with nature “started when I was a kid, and never stopped,” he says, and he’s now part of the Texas Nature Tracker program, which is “a citizen-science monitoring effort designed to engage the naturalist community and contribute data on species of concern in Texas.”

This stunning dragonfly, however, was found far south of Texas. Cullens says he was visiting Peru and was in a dugout canoe with his father, “in an oxbow off the Madre de Dios river. We were going for Sunbitterns, but not successfully. We heard them but never saw them. While out I saw the Dragonflies, so I switched taxa and focused on them. They were brilliant.”

Zenithoptera is a genus of skimmer dragonflies (Family Libellulidae) known for the bluish-purple upper surfaces of their wings. Like many other skimmers, they perch often keep their bodies in a horizontal position. iNat user @jimjohnson wrote a blog post about his encounter with members of this genus, and he also notes they’re the only New World genus of dragonflies that sometimes perch with their wings folded together and pointed upright, showing off the dark underside of the wings. He even witnessed a female raising only her hindwings!

Cullen says he’s always been “more of a general naturalist,” even though he’s had many mentors in the birding community, and credits iNaturalist for expanding “the diversity of taxa that I can engage with personally, and the contribution or our citizen science program. We used to focus on just a handful of species, not we collect data on over 1,000 species.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Over 31,000 observations have been added via the Texas Nature Trackers app! You can find them here

- National Geographic has a 15 minute short about dragonflies with some great footage.

- BBC Nature shows you how dragonflies use those magnificent eyes.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, November 24, 2016 16:49

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