Along the Air Line... 2002 - June, Part 1
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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As this series of photos demonstrates, I'm seeing many more insects along the trail lately. In part, this is because I've had several walks later in the morning, rather than my usual 7:00 - 9:00 time when many insects aren't yet active.

Here are three Pearl Crescents (Phyciodes tharos), the first one freshly emerged, the other two more worn and faded.

With June 1st came Ox-eye Daisies (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum - what a great name) and a number of other white-flowered species.

I'm pretty sure this is Evening Lychnis (Lychnis alba).

One-flowered Cancer Root (Orobanche uniflora), a parasitic plant (note the absence of chlorophyll in the stem).

Yarrow (Achillea millifolium).

Several species of Viburnum differening mostly in leaf shape are blooming along the trail in the Raymond Brook Marsh. This first one is Northern Arrowwood (Viburnum recognitum). Sorry, I don't know the others well enough to give you common names or species.

Hawkweed (Hieracium sp.); one of the alien species with leaves in a basal rosette.

Stepping away from the Hawkweed I'd just photographed, I startled what I think is a Northern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), but it could be a Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta). Whichever it is, they are quite common in the Raymond Brook Marsh area.

Damselflies are among my favorite insects. I once hoped to study them professionally, but found myself instead focused on the water beetles - the same group studied by my undergraduate advisor. Not wishing to waste the investment in undergraduate research, I continued studing the beetles in graduate school, culminating in a Ph.D. in their evolutionary biology in 1981.

Still, damselflies are fascinating creatures - in looks, structure, and mating behavior. (In terms of the latter, damselflies know more about "FIFO" and "LIFO" than computer programmers.)

Of the broad-winged damselflies (Calopterigidae), none is more impressive than this one, the black-winged Calopteryx maculatum. The male has a vibrant metallic-green body and jet black wings. The green color is structural - the result of light bouncing off a minute surface texture - and remains intact on long-dead museum specimens.

The female's body is less metallic, the wings lighter and marked (maculate) with white stigmas near the tips.

Narrow-winged damselflies (Coenagrionidae) of the genus Enallagma are often brightly banded in pastel greens and blues. Their common name is Bluets. Sadly, the pastel color pigments fade shortly after death.

While damselflies have stalked eyes, fore and hind wings of the same shape, and wings generally folded over the back when at rest; dragonflies have eyes nearly or actually meeting at the top of the head, differently shaped hind wings and wings held out to the sides. Contrary to myth, dragonflies don't bite or sting. They're only a threat to mosquitoes and other small insects which they capture in flight.

A Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax). Another sub-species, called the White Admiral (L. a. arthemis), is similar but with a broad white band on the upper side of the wings.

The Red-spotted Purple's red spots are on the underside of the wings.