Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Mystery with a Twist in the Tail

Every now and again I encounter a damselfly with a kinked or twisted abdomen. A slight deformity doesn't seem to be too detrimental (indeed, last year I photographed a large red with a twisted abdomen in a mating wheel) but I wondered how it came to be.

Yesterday at Gibside I found the answer, quite obvious really, when I stumbled upon this unfortunate azure emerging in thick grass (apologies for rotten photos but it was really bright yesterday and I couldn't tell if I was in focus through the viewfinder due to reflections, a proper point and press job).

The abdomen had obviously been obstructed by the grass stems while still soft, and though I cleared some of it away, it was too late for this poor bugger as it looked to have been there for some time, already past the teneral stage as the body had already hardened and had immature colouring, wings clear rather than milky.

But that wasn't the only problem; the right hind-wing hadn't formed properly either, and was actually still attached to the exuvia.

I got it in hand to try and remove it but believe it or not it fluttered away, dragging the empty husk behind it.
Somehow I don't think this one is going to survive for too long. It's shaped like a corkscrew and is carrying excess baggage.

So there you have it; next time you see a damsel with a warped abdomen, it's caused by obstructive vegetation during emergence. Mystery solved.  

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