Blogging buddy Mike Powell and I have been talking about how dragonflies are able to cope with apparent physical disabilities. Mike’s recent post about a tattered skimmer (here) featured one with damaged wings. I’ve seen many with similar tears and wrinkles through the years, but the one that most impressed me was this Minnesota dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus), back in 2004, almost exactly 16 years ago. It had one severely dented eye but seemed unfazed by it (although it did allow me to get intimately close for this image), and I was amazed when it flew off with what looked to be a relatively normal flight pattern. If you’d like to see a more detailed image, just click on the photo.
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I’ve never seen a dragonfly with a dented eye like that. I wonder if something chomped down on it. I wouldn’t expect the dragonfly to have flown into an obstacle, though maybe a strong wind in a storm could have blown it against some object.
That’s the only one I’ve seen. I, too, suspect a sudden gust of wind as the likely culprit. Lots of them were emerging and, though this one had been in its imago stage long enough to have turned dark, they are pretty delicate when they make their first few flights.
That looks like the dragonfly equivalent of a fender-bender. Call the body shop!
Did you know that the New Zealand term for a body shop is “panel beater?”
Maybe it attacked its reflection in a window like birds sometimes do. Animals, including insects, are pretty adaptable, but I’d think that would throw its compound vision into a tizzy.
That’s exactly what Mike and I have been speculating about. Wouldn’t it be something if we could mind-meld with them so we could see what they see–as they see it?
Wow. Amazing shots of that damaged eye, Gary. It is something that I have never seen or even heard of before you mentioned it. I have seen some pretty severe deformities (like this one https://michaelqpowell.com/2019/05/26/gray-petaltail-survivor/), but never one with an eye issue like that. Emergence is fraught with so many potential problems because they are so vulnerable at that stage that it seems likely to me that is when the damaged occurred.
I have a theory on how that deformity may have happened: I’ve seen nymphs that have climbed out of the water and come to rest on a surface that had an obstacle–a branch, a shard of bark, etc.–that presented an unexpected barrier as the adult emerged from the husk and prevented a smooth exit. I’ve helped a number of these through the years, as they only have a very limited time to get it done, and if they get partially stuck, they do not survive. Yours was very lucky indeed.
I was surprised that this one was flying and perching without any real problems. I think it may have been able to catch insects, but mating obviously was out of the question. I have, alas, seen some that have not survived the emergence process and perished during the transition process. I was fortunate to see the entire process of metamorphosis and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
Great close-ups of the dragonfly! At that close range, they look awe-inspiring.
I think the same, and we really love these big guys.
Amazing! I’ve seen tattered wings before but never this.
Nor I. I always try to keep both eyes open to be able to avoid any potential obstacles when on any new excursion, but it seems that some are not quite cautious enough.
The colours are amazing. Nice one, Gary!
I was very fortunate to be able to get this close.
Fascinating. Earth’s beings are all quite resilient!
Sometimes phenomenally so. I’ve seen spiders with three legs that get along just fine and, in my veterinary history, I’ve seen many 3-legged dogs and cats that compensate very well indeed, and am aware of a few that have lost two legs. Of course, many folks have seen chariots that work for animals who have lost hind-leg function, but there are also reliable reports of dogs and cats that cope with only one fore- and one hind-leg, and they are able to rise from a lying position without assistance and get around far better than one would imagine.
That second shot of the dented eye is extraordinary. I suppose insects are no different to the rest of us living creatures. There’s usually a way to get around our disabilities.
So right. We do the best we can with what we have, and we are usually very good at it.