I recently took a hike at Currituck Banks Reserve on the outer bank of North Carolina. My daughter was fascinated by the hundreds of dragonflies buzzing around. We spent more than an hour watching them interact with their environment and each other in the dry woods and near the bay waters.
There are a million images of dragonflies on the web. Not only are they spectacular insects but they are also relatively easy to photograph partly because of their large size but more importantly because their behavior is quite predictable. We quickly observed that the same dragonfly would return to the same perching spot over and over again. My daughter would identify places she saw dragonflies sitting and I would focus on those places and wait for the dragonfly to return. I didn’t have my tripod with me but they remain motionless for several seconds at a time upon landing and there was almost no breeze. With my 200mm Nikon lens with VR on or off and using manual focus I was able to get a few pictures. I don’t have identifications for most of the dragonflies which very much devalues their usefulness but for the sake of their beauty alone I thought they were worth sharing here.
I don’t know my dragonfly taxonomy and don’t have the time to work out identifications right now but I am fairly certain that several of the dragon flies we saw with different body colors were not different species but rather were the result sexual dimorphism – differences between males and females. Even considering these variations I am sure that we observed at least four species of dragonflies on a one mile walk.
There are more than 2500 species of dragonflies with more than 300 in North American. I found one list of North Carolina species that has 90 species plus another 25 damselflies. So despite how amazed we were at the variety of dragonflies we observed in a couple of hours we only saw the tip of the iceberg of dragonfly diversity even here in North Carolina.