While attending the Brooks Bird Club Foray in Hinton, WV we took a field trip to an island in the New River. We went there to see the unique plant community and while we were there someone spotted this Dobsonfly that had just emerged.
Of course we all gathered around for a close view and to take many photos.
The male and the female can reach up to 5 inches if you measure from the tips of their pincers to the tips of their wings. The wingspan can be twice as long as their body length so this is an impressive insect and not easily over looked.
I often find them at my porch light when I am looking for moths and I will include a few of those photos here such as this female on the side of my house.
A few yards down the trail I came across another one that had be out for a while and it had its final color and the wings had hardened.
Below is a photo I took at home showing the wing strongly articulated veins.
Both the males and the females have sharp mandibles but those of the males are so big that they are unable to harm humans because they don’t have a good leverage and cannot break the skin. They open their jaws and look scary to threaten but it is just all show. They are used to grasp the females during mating.
It is a different story as you can see from this close up of the pincers of this female that came to my porch. It hurts just to look at them. Even though they are not venomous they can draw blood. They can also spray a foul-smelling from their anus that one would want to avoid.
The larval stage, called hellgrammites makes good bait and I have seen fishermen turning over rocks to find them. They actually live a few years in this stage and then crawl to land to pupate overwinter and emerge to mate in the spring. They only live for seven days as adults.
Here is an empty egg case I found last year.