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Through the Lens

Here There Be Dragons

Fri, August 12, 2016

It’s that time of year – not only are my eyes watching the sky for the early migrating waterfowl, but most recently I have been fully entranced by the large number of dragonflies that are buzzing around every little piece of wetland, every little moist pothole on the prairie, and all the ponds, streams, and bodies of water I have visited lately.

Indiana Public Media  gives us this great tidbit about dragonfly migration -

“Did you that some species of dragon flies migrate?
Of the 400 or so species in North America, scientists believe only about a dozen migrate from the northern United States and southern Canada to the southern United States and Mexico. In fact, even in species that have been shown to migrate, like the green darner, not all populations make the journey.
Dragonfly migration remains quite a mystery altogether. Scientists have wondered why they migrate, how they know where to go, and where precisely they go when they fly south. That could be changing though. In the last year and a half, scientists have begun fitting dragonflies with tiny radio transmitters in order to track their migration. They actually glue the transmitters, along with tiny batteries, onto the undersides of the dragonflies’ abdomens. Scientists can then track the insects by plane since it is almost impossible to follow them on the ground.
So far, their research has revealed that dragonfly migration seems to be remarkably similar to bird migration. Like birds, the southbound dragonflies seem to use the tailwinds generated by northerly cold fronts to aid in their southbound flights. Other similarities to birds were that they refrained from migrating on windy days, and they followed visual landmarks such as coastlines and lake shores. Still, there are plenty of unanswered questions, like why some species are on the move, while others stay put.”

Generally speaking dragonfly migration takes place through Illinois in August. There’s a wealth of great information, as well as an opportunity to be a citizen scientist and help track and record dragonflies at the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership web site. Check it out! Consider too, becoming a citizen scientist and sign up to participate in the Pond Watch program.  Be forewarned, these flying jewels will steal your attention, and like me you may find yourself spending a great deal of time just watching and wondering about these flying jewels.

I spent almost the whole morning yesterday neck deep in reeds, grass, and that devil of all devils phragmites, watching the busy as could be hordes of dragonflies that are currently inhabiting Pyramid State Park.  It was nearly at swarm level in several spots. The multitude of dragon flies were constantly whizzing around my head, landing on my camera, on me, on most any stationary object.  Each year I am reminded of how fantastic these prehistoric creatures, these flying jewels truly are.

How can YOU not be fascinated by these unique looking creatures too?  Get outside this weekend Heartland friends – go find some dragonflies! Let us know what the dragonfly numbers and species are like in your neck of the woods right now!

 

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