Not far from the spot where I discovered salt marsh morning glories abloom, this dragonfly paused at the edge of a water-filled ditch while dozens more of its species continued to buzz over the water.
I’ve tentatively identified it as a black setwing (Dythemis nigrescens), a dragonfly native to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Mexico. Sometimes confused with the slaty skimmer (Libellula incesta), the black setwing is smaller, with a more slender abdomen.
According to Odonata Central, these setwings enjoy perching atop twigs near the water, generally in open areas. That fits the behavior of this dragonfly, except that it hadn’t chosen a twig for its perch. This expanded view shows its resting spot for what it is: the four-inch long seed pod of a slim milkweed plant (Asclepias linearis).
Though obscured in the photo above, the delicate flowers of this milkweed are eye-catching: perhaps to the eyes of a dragonfly, the pods are equally attractive, and even more useful.