Pond Life

Neon Skimmer, Libellula croceipennis

The lily pond end of the water garden (the other end is an artificial stream in the shade) provides both deep and shallow water with good plant cover for amphibians and insects to reproduce. We are now able to maintain the water level with collected rainwater, which is better for the wildlife. Because we want to encourage amphibians, especially, we don't have fish in the pond. Two frog species and one toad species reproduce successfully here, as do dragonflies and damselflies of several species. The plant species include water lily, water iris (both blue and yellow) and pickerelweed.

leopard frog
Two young leopard frogs (you can see only the eyes of one) clinging to a water lily leaf. This lily is a pale yellow that bleaches to cream on its second day in the sun; we also have a pure white and a lovely pink waterlily.

red damselfly
Red Damselfly resting on iris leaf. Damselflies fold their wings back, besides being smaller than dragonflies. The red ones hang out at the pond; the males are this brilliant red; the females slightly duller, sometimes almost tan. We have others in the woods that are dark, or dark striped with blue, as well as brilliant electric-blue ones.

leopard frog
Young leopard frog hanging in the water. These young frogs are either the southern leopard frog, Rana utricularia, or plains leopard frog, R. blairi, but so far this spring I haven't been able to see the defining characteristic because they're too fast. In previous years, most have been the plains leopard frog, which has a sort of "dogleg" in its dorsolateral ridges.

widow skimmer
A male Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa on his favorite perch, from which he can see his territory.

widow skimmer
Male Widow Skimmer, dorsal view. This individual patrols the pond in bright weather. The abdomen in full sun can look almost white, but in the shade looks a rich blue. The female of this species (pictured on the June 2003 page) is black with shimmering gold markings and wing iridescence.

neon skimmerThe female laying eggs is the Neon Skimmer, Libellula corceipennis.

Female Neon Skimmers glow honey-golden in the sun, when they hover over open water and then "scoop" water and emerging eggs with their abdomens, sometimes flinging a droplet of water with an egg in high enough to make it out of the pond. The males hover nearby or actually chase the females. This one (on the right) is approaching open water to lay her eggs. This one (below) had dipped her abdomen into the water and is about to scoop-and-splash.
neon skimmer

water spider
This water spider has only seven legs left, but can still walk on water. I'm wondering if the sad little husk by her right middle leg is her boy toy.

Great Spreadwing, Archilestes grandis male...the bluest eyes you've ever seen. This species is the largest damselfly in the United States. This picture would've been impossible without manual focus control.

orb spider
Into every paradise for dragonflies come this case the big black-and-yellow orb weavers, Argiope aurantia, who start out between the blades of the iris, and later spin webs that span from the iris to a young tree within a few feet of the pond. Such webs block the favorite patrol patterns of the males, and even a neon skimmer can be trapped and eaten.

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MoonScape80 Acres