Dragonflies

The hot weather is not my favorite. But it’s good for dragonflies!

There were tons of Meadowhawks in the field near the bird banding station.
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Also in the field were Slender Spreadwings… so delicate!
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Over on the bridge at Spatterdock Pond I spotted Eastern Pondhawks. It is easy to tell male from female by color. The males are blue and green, the females green and black.
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There were also Dot-tailed Whitefaces. This one’s hind wing is a little tattered.
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I also saw Common Whitetails, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, Blue Dashers, and Common Green Darners… but none of them would sit still for a portrait.

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Allegany Nature Pilgrimage – Dragons!

May 31, 2008 – Allegany Nature Pilgrimage – Dragonflies

Participants Posed for this PictureI couldn’t resist an afternoon looking for Dragons with Jeremy Martin.  I first met him at the Audubon when he was in the shop purchasing a dragonfly book…  We happened to be starting a new project with the Natural Heritage Program – a collaboration with the New York State DEC to do a state-wide Odonata Survey.  I found out that he already knew a good deal about dragons and damsels and he has turned out to be quite an asset to the project!  An engineer by trade, he does the dragoning on the side… and he does it with gusto. I wish I knew a tenth of what he knows!

Emerging DragonAnd I wish I had his luck:  As he was setting his books and equipment down near the site where the program was being held, there, right in front of his eyes, was a dragonfly emerging from the exo-skeleton of the larva.

Where some insects exhibit complete metamorphosis, dragonflies and damselflies (and several other aquatic invertebrates) exhibit incomplete metamorphosis.  In the complete version, an insect starts as an egg, hatches out as a larva, goes into a pupa, and emerges as an adult.  This is the classic insect life cycle that kids learn in school.  Insects that exhibit incomplete metamorphosis skip the pupal phase.  The last molt of the larva is not a pupa but the adult insect.

Exuviae - Three SpeciesThe shed exoskeletons are called exuviae (singular: exuvia).  We found several around the site – at least three different species: Common Baskettail, Springtime Darner, and Common Green Darner.

Jeremy was great about engaging even the youngest learner at his program.  Here, a young naturalist is using a landing net to scoop vegetation from the bottom of the lake.  He picks through the plants to find dragonfly larva:

Catching Dragonfly Babies

The Wings Popped Open While I was Taking PicturesAs I was kneeling down to take a few more shots of our emerging dragon, its wings popped open.  Then, everybody wanted a picture.
Then Everyone Wanted Pictures
Poor Toni.  The darned darner flew before she got her turn!

Luckily, Jeremy nearly netted another a few moments later.  Nearly netted?  Yeah… he knocked it into the water, then scooped it up with the landing net… not the normal way to catch a flying dragon!  Lucky, though, because it was stunned and allowed us to put it on some plants and take loads of pictures before it recovered and flew off.  And this time, Toni got her turn!

Toni at Work

Here’s my shot of the Springtime Darner:

Springtime Darner

Thanks, Jeremy, for a great workshop!  Apparently, Jeremy had emerging dragons on his second program of the weekend, too.  I wonder if he contracts with Odonata Central and how much he has to pay to get larva to emerge on command?…

There are many sides to every story.  Pop on over to read other accounts of this same event: