Think you’re having a bad day? At least you’re not upside down in a swimming pool:
This dragonfly, with the noble name Regal Darner (Coryphaeschna ingens), was still beating its wings, so I scooped it out of the pool and put it on the deck, where it appeared rather bedraggled.
It was disoriented and appeared frantic to remain near the water; perhaps this head shot, in which you can see how damaged its left eye is, explains why:
And, as it turns out, my rescue attempt wasn’t very successful. As soon as I turned my back, I saw a lizard streak out from hiding and scoop it up; here is all that’s left of this beautiful insect:
These throwaway bits that the lizard didn’t want to bother ingesting provide perfect clues to the sex of the departed insect, though: female. The u-shaped hook on the bottom of segment 9 is called a stylus, which is believed to enable the dragonfly to place its eggs with great precision in whatever substrate it prefers.
The long “tails” at the end of the abdomen are called cerci; their presence, along with the green coloration of the eyes, indicates that this was a juvenile darner. As female darners age, oviposition or simple wear and tear cause these appendages to break off; long tails usually means young bug.
The genus, Coryphaeschna, is a compound word, formed from the Greek aechma, “spear,” and another Greek word, corypho, “head, top”: thus, “spearhead.” The French entomologist Jules Pierre Rambur described this species, the type specimen for the entire (now obsolete) genus Aeshna, in his 1842 Histoire naturelle des insectes, part of the Suites à Buffon. The specific name, ingens, is Latin for “vast, huge, great, immoderately large,” and describes the size of this dragonfly quite well.
Hope your day is better than this little lady’s was!