Calopterygidae: the insect so beautiful it was named so

CALOPTERYGIDAE

The Insect So Beautiful, It Was Named So

After a few days of clouds, rain and cool temperatures, the warmth has begun to return. Today my daughters wanted to go swimming at the “pool” but the air temp wasn’t quite warm enough for me and the sun was occasionally blocked by clouds so I followed them down with my camera.

I noticed there was a lot of activity down at the water’s edge so I found a comfortable lump of grass and sat down as I surveyed the scene.

A number of Brilliant Emerald dragonflies were patrolling the pond but what really caught my eye was my favorite “dragonfly” which isn’t a dragonfly at all but a damselfly called a Beautiful Demoiselle. For someone who is not really into insects, I can’t tell much of the difference between a damselfly and a dragonfly besides speed, agility, size, eye placement and damselflies are cuter (if that’s possible).

CALOPTERYGIDAE Male

Besides being “cute”, this variety is the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen; metallic cobalt with a mix of metallic green highlights. They fly clumsily like a butterfly, but they can kick it into light speed when needed. I counted a total of eight males and could only account for one female but there may have been more.

The females appeared to be sitting on the sidelines watching the dogfights that the males were engaged in over territory and the opportunity to pair with the fine young lady with the world in her hands.

Female Calopterygidae watching the boys battle for her love

The males were spread out around the swim hole in pairs and seemed to only spar with the same male. I didn’t notice any mixing it up with the other six males.

Dogfights

After a while of observing these beautiful damselflies, there was one that would rest near me on a leaf. We became friends and I was really rooting that he’d be the lucky one that the female would choose. I named him Cobalt.

My little buddy, Cobalt

One thing I discovered very quickly was that these things (and dragonflies in general) are so hard to photograph while in motion. The problem is their size and by the time the lens focuses, the subject leaves the focus block. Luckily, I had nowhere to go and all the time in the world to get enough pictures to fill my satisfaction. I have captured a few action shots of them flying. The photos are blurry but they still look nice in my opinion.

Cobalt in action

Cobalt was out on his patrols but after quite a decent flight, he would land near me on two different plant leaves. When he was well rested, he’d repeat. While on his patrols, he appeared to be showing the “ladies” which fine egg laying places were in his territory. Every now and then he would get the same challenger but that challenger wasn’t as aggressive as the other male pairs who seemed to be continuously in a dogfight. Maybe Cobalt was nearing the end of his challenge which may be why the female approached him a few times. He would land on a water plant that was on the surface, and he would lift up his tail with the three prongs stretched out and advertising a pink or beige orifise. I wondered what the lure was with that. I understand the claw at the end of the tail is for attaching the female by the neck but I wondered if he also releases some kind of Old Spice smell or aphrodisiac to set the hook.

Below are just a few more shots. The last shot is Cobalt’s rival. Because of him, I never got the chance to see Cobalt win the lady’s heart. Every time Cobalt offered her his claw, dude would do a flyby and Cobalt would have to chase him away. Typical Charlie Bravo but he was also beautiful so it must be difficult for the female to decide.

I was also lucky enough to get a couple blurry shots of the Brilliant Emerald dragon fly who would give Cobalt a little tease now and then and seemed to patrol the pond breaking up the dogfights. I’m sure he was just trying to keep his territory in check but in my mind, he didn’t like all the bickering.

Because these pictures can be taken by unethical people, I’ve downsized them which of course decreases their quality substantially. The originals are great though. Wish I could post those instead. If you’re on Instagram, be sure to follow my account. I toggle between the blog and Instagram but I do tend to first post on Instagram as I don’t have to think or write so much as I do here.

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