26 October 2009

Smoky On The Water

In 2008, I found a female Smoky Rubyspot (Hetaerina titia) at Humbug Marsh. That was a new species for Wayne County, Michigan, and we had wondered where a population occurred in the area. Then, on September 18, 2009, Burt Cebulski posted to the Great Lakes Odonata listserv that many individuals had been found along the Raisin River. Thus, I decided to check locations in Monroe and Wayne Counties on September 19th along the Huron River.

First stop was the park along the Huron River at I-75 in Monroe County. This location gives good access to the river upstream from the I-75 bridge. It is essentially a location for fishing, but has debris dumped in the river and litter along the banks and in the bushes (not an attractive location). Within minutes I spotted a dark, male rubyspot (Hetaerina species) perched on the rim of a half-submerged barrel. Unfortunately, it was too far from shore to net. Checking other possible perches turned up additional individuals perching on a downed tree over the water. The near shore area was shaded, so I shimmied out on the trunk to get closer and with some patience, I netted a couple of male Smoky Rubyspots (H. titia).
Here's a photo of one while looking at the downed tree:
Here's a photo looking upstream. That is Wayne County at the far shore. I was able to observe this species on both sides of the river:
...and a close-up showing the overall darkness of the species:
...and a close-up in the sun:
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture any females for examination. In total, there were 6+ males and 2+ females of H. titia. I did not find any American Rubyspots (H. americana) at this location.

I tried another spot downstream of the I-75 bridge on the Wayne County side of the river. This was only a few hundred meters from the first location, but was sunnier. Here I found only American Rubyspots (H. americana). Following are photos of a male H. americana for comparison:

After this successful location, I headed much farther upstream to Lower Huron Metropark in Wayne County. However, I had no luck finding rubyspots.

Next year, I'll have to check additional locations along the Detroit River for H. titia in mid-September.

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