|Cyrano darner (Nasiaeschna pentacantha), a dragonfly|
|Ebony jewelwing (Claopteryx maculata), a damselfly|
In preparation for an upcoming odonata-themed mini BioBlitz, we've been visiting ponds, streams, and wetlands around the property, catching and identifying as many dragonfly and damselfly species as we can. While several species of dragonflies and damselflies are generalists and can be found near most bodies of water on the property, others have specific habitat preferences and are much more difficult to find. Dragonflies and damselflies, especially specialist species, can help us better understand different habitat types, and it's possible that they can act as indicator species. This means that changes in their abundance or in the assemblage of species at a given habitat can warn us of changes in that habitat, such as a shift in water quality.
Dragonflies are most active when it's sunny. Their speed and agility makes them almost impossible to catch in flight,so we generally waited until they paused to rest on vegetation. Damselflies are smaller and some can be difficult to see, but they are active even when it's cloudy and are much easier to catch. Some female damselflies resembled closely related species so much that a positive ID in the field was impossible.
|Male variable dancer (Argia fumipennis), a damselfly|
We sampled at fifteen locations (see map below), and positively identified 36 species from seven different families (see the link at the end of this post). We chose locations to represent different habitat types. The species present will vary according to habitat type and time of year, with some species reaching their peak later in the year than the species we encountered. I'm in the process of uploading our findings to Odonata Central. I encourage other odonata enthusiasts to do the same, and to join us on Saturday, July 9th (weather permitting), for our odonata mini BioBlitz! Sunscreen, bugspray (but not on your hands!), long pants and waterproof boots are recommended, and butterfly nets are provided.
|Map of White Memorial with dragonfly sampling sites marked with red dragonflies|