Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dragonflies and Damselflies

 I had the pleasure today of joining in as John Arthur took 25 of us on a hike to survey dragonflies and damselflies at Springbrook. While they are very pretty, identifying these little critters takes some skill and patience.  But good species diversity in an area is an excellant indicator of environmental health. And we saw many species today.
Damselflies fold their wings over their back when they are resting, as you can see the male Eastern Forktail Damselfly doing above.  Dragonflies cannot fold their wings, and leave them open when they are at rest, as this female Eastern Pond Hawk Dragonfly is doing in this picture.

In these groups of insects, the males and females often look very different, and even the young adults may look very different than adults a few weeks older.
Damselflies and Dragonflies are all carniverous, eating mosquitoes and anything else they can catch.  This Hagen's Bluet Damselfly is eating what looks like a young grasshopper.
This Horned Clubtail is a fairly large dragonfly, but still blends in with its surroundings so well that it is easy when walking on the trails to not see them even when only a few feet away.

Along with being predators, dragonflies and damselflies are in turn prey for many songbirds and are in constant danger of being eaten. 
The wet spring and summer have created a great year for dragonflies and damselflies. There are many more than usual.  Walk Springbrook's trails to see this female Blue Dasher dragonfly and the many more that can be found throughout the park.

I took these pictures and lots of others in the last few days while hiking the trails.  Take your camera with you.  Most point and shoot cameras can take great close up pictures.

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