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whatsthis9-860x260The What’s This? challenge returns after a week of my chasing birds around northern Vermont and New Hampshire. Some of those highlights included two Bicknell’s Thrushes singing off the summit of Vermont’s Mt. Worcester on Monday, June 10, and a Tennessee Warbler singing on Cross Road in Wolcott, Vermont, near the old Center for Northern Studies building on Wednesday, June 5. But now that it’s raining, spend some time figuring out this thing above, shot near College Station, Pennsylvania, on June 12, 2005. Name it and win $5 off any of my outings or workshops.

Added June 12, 2013: We have a winner: Judy Brook (who does have a doctorate in biology, after all) correctly identified this as the abdomen of a Comet Darner (Anax longipes). Comet Darner is a rocket, among the toughest dragonflies to catch here in North America. Net one of these and you’re swinging in the big leagues. I shall not forget my first encounter with this marvel of evolution. We met at a pond in central Pennsylvania. As the comet approached, I clutched my net handle tighter – and began to shake. Honest. I was quaking in my soggy boots. Laughing beside me was Clark Shiffer, a retired state wildlife biologist and skilled odonatist. He knew this feeling well. “It’s like buck fever,” he said. Yep, I had the nervous, hungry excitement of a deer hunter encountering his prey. The darner zoomed in. I swung my net in a grand arc … and missed. Clark chucked. The comet zipped away leaving me a neon red flash in his wake.

Comet Darner (Anax longipes) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Comet Darner (Anax longipes) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Honorable mentions on this one go to Leda Beth, Josh, Alice, Erica, Dan and Ruth for correctly identifying the quiz image as a dragonfly abdomen. Sara Backer submitted her usual gem.

  1. dldanderd says:

    Wow! I too identified it as the abdomen of a dragonfly. We just held the Wisconsin Dragonfly Society’s Spring/Summer Meeting this past weekend. Here in Southern Wisconsin (we were in Waukesha County, west of the divide between Atlantic and Caribbean drainages) it has been awful — cold and wet. So the number of dragonflies and damselflies was very reduced — especially after our early Spring last year. Keep up the good work!!!

  2. Leda Beth Gray says:

    Dragonfly abdomen

  3. Sara Backer says:

    This is an exquisite lacquer art work representing the extended leg of a Heikegani Crab, a native Japanese arthropod whose bodies bear the faces of dead samurai. (If you showed the body part of the shell, you would totally give it away.)

  4. Alice says:

    dragonfly tail?

  5. A dragonfly tail??

  6. Judy Brook says:

    That’s the abdomen of a dragonfly. I think it might be a Comet Darner (Anax longipes).

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