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Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis). The stunning colors of dragonflies are delightful to photograph. The insects are, however, a bit difficult to approach because of their excellent eyesight and wary nature. Certain species, being more numerous, afford more chances at getting close enough for pictures. The blue dasher is a very common dragonfly in Austin and the photographs here were taken at both Zilker Garden and in our own yard. They seem to become accustomed to people and remain still even when viewed from only a few feet away. Another page presents photos of other dragonflies.

male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash01: 1639x1227, 635kb

Dragonflies are often easiest to approach during the early morning, when cool temperatures make them less likely to fly. Blue dashers are seen in our area starting quite early in the spring.

immature male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash02: 1681x1267, 682kb

The individual shown above is an immature male. The eyes are still brownish on top and blue on the bottom, but in a few days will change to the adult turquoise color. Many species of dragonflies undergo similar color changes once they reach their adult form and so have a slightly delayed sexual maturity.

male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash03: 1623x1245, 639kb

Once the blue dasher acquires its adult colored eyes, it still continues to change slightly. The thorax, which is yellow and black striped, takes on a bluish tinge between the wings as the insect ages.

female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash04: 1741x1357, 669kb

Females are encountered much less often than males, since they tend to perch in less obvious places. There are reports that the females also defend feeding territories, but I've never seen them do more than just sit still, usually further from the water than the males. As can be seen in the photo above, the females have a black and yellow marked abdomen.

male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash05: 2288x1712, 1.05mb

The face of the blue dasher is white. A combination of the light blue abdomen, striped thorax, and aqua colored eyes and white face make this insect easy to identify.

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash06: 1871x1479, 764kb

Male perched on a tropical water lily blossom. The tip of the abdomen is black, and there is a varying amount of black near the base of the tail as well. Some individuals have almost no black marks right behind the wings while others have a large spot on each side, right above the yellow underside of the first few segments.

male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) on water primrose (Ludwigia octovalvis)
dash07: 1721x1287, 638kb

Blue dasher on water primrose (Ludwigia octovalvis). These dragonflies often perch very close to the water, which is one reason they are so frequently seen.

male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash08: 1761x1321, 612kb

The strikingly colored eyes of the blue dasher tend to change hue depending on the angle of the light. All adults have turquoise eyes which can shine like gems in certain circumstances.

male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash09: 1827x1361, 642kb

When viewed against the sky, the delicate wing coloration is visible. Male blue dashers have wings with an amber base and a slight brownish tint on the outer half.

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash10: 2288x1712, 824kb

This view of a male also shows the wing colors. It is perched on a lotus bud; the background is a lotus leaf.

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
dash11: 2288x1712, 985kb

This dragonfly is resting on a lotus seed pod in Zilker Gardens. The insects get so used to people that one can approach to within a few feet of males defending their territories.

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