But Seriously...

But Seriously...

Conversations with a science comedian.

Insect Paparazzi: Eye of the Dragon


Dragonfly - Blue Dasher

I rarely get to shoot dragonflies as they hungrily patrol their airspace, never stopping to rest.

But sometimes they alight and, when they do, I'm there, camera in hand. This one is a Blue Dasher, scientific name Pachydiplax longipennis.  And, no, that species name, longipennis, actually means "long wings." Sorry.

I've noticed, when disturbed by my approach, dragonflies have a tendency to return to the exact same perch. They'll fly off, circle around, and come right back to the same spot. So, if I'm patient and I move slowly, I can gradually approach, closer and closer, shooting as I go. Til I'm as close as my lens will focus, which is about 3.5".

Dragonfly - Blue Dasher

I always wonder why they trust me - or, allow me, anyway - to get so close. Might I not be a predator? Clearly, they can see me with that big eye that never blinks. Why don't they fly away?

In this third picture, the extreme closeup, you can see the ommatidia - the individual units which make up the compound eyes of some insects, including dragonflies. Each ommatidium is a like a single pixel that makes up the dragonfly's visual world, and some dragonflies have nearly 30,000.

Dragonfly Eye - Blue Dasher

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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