30 May 2011

2nd visit to Maybury State Park

With early dragonflies on the mind that would make new records for the county, I headed to Maybury State Park in northwestern Wayne County on May 30th. My first visit of the year a week ago only provided a female Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia).

No luck with new species for the county, but I did see a couple new species for the season.

Several Ebony Jewelwings (Calopteryx maculata) were flitting about Sump Drain:

A few baskettails (Epitheca sp.) were patrolling the forest clearings. I caught one male and will try to ID it at a later date. It may be Common (E. cynosura) or Stripe-winged (E. costalis):

A nice surprise was a young male Arrowhead Spiketail (Cordulegaster obliqua) perching in a small Prickly Ash:

Next I'll look for this species in another county.

29 May 2011

Slow start to the southeast Michigan ode season

I was looking forward to making a post on an earlier date, but we've had an extremely cold and wet spring. I believe it's the 2nd wettest spring on record for this area.

Up through today (May 29th), I've only tallied 6 species of odonata of only several individuals. Below is my meager list of first dates:

- Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) = emerging individuals mid-May in Farmington Hills

- Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) = emerging individuals mid-May in Farmington Hills. Here's a fairly teneral female from 5/19:

- Common Green Darner (Anax junius) = one male on 5/5 in Farmington Hills

- baskettail sp. (Epitheca sp.) = 6+ on 5/29 at UM-Dearborn. These were likely Common (E. cynosura), but could have the possibility of being Stripe-winged (E. costalis).

- Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta) = one young male on 5/29 at UM-Dearborn:

- Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) = one teneral female at Maybury State Park on 5/22. Here's a teneral male found 5/23 in Farmington Hills:

Don't worry, there is more to come. Although we could see a lower number of river and stream species this year due to the excessive flooding experienced this spring.

17 May 2011

New books, with UDH photos

A couple of books have come out recently that are worth adding to any insect lover's library. Not only that, an Urban Dragon Hunter contributed a photo to each.

First up is the excellent Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat. The Xerces Society, a well-respected invertebrate conservation organization, really went all out in this book. Chapters cover pollination, pollinators, and pollinator conservation, and every aspect of how to manage land, greenspaces, and gardens to provide nest sites, foraging habitat, and wintering sites for pollinators. Another section describes the bees of North America by family and subfamily. The photo illustrating the account of the genus Stelis (a cuckoo bee) was taken by Nannothemis in the Urban Dragon Hunter backyard. For a few years, we have photographed and tried to identify all the Hymenoptera and Diptera in the yard. We were happy to make this contribution to the Xerces Society, especially for such a terrific book. If you have even a passing interest in pollinators or landscaping for wildlife, get this book.

Next up we move on to another taxa with The Complete Book of North American Butterflies. This is a beautiful book that, ironically, does not cover all the butterflies of the continent. The first 60 pages or so provide an overview the Lepidopteran life cycle. Most of the remainder of the volume gives summaries of the six families of butterflies in North America with brief, representative species accounts. There are over 700 species of butterflies in N.A. (there is a list in the back of the book), but fewer than 100 are described. Nonetheless, these accounts are succinct but thorough and each features one or two excellent photos. Nannothemis contributed a shot of a Little Wood Satyr that appears in both the "self-defense" section and on the back cover of the book. This book will be released next month, and would make a great introduction for a new butterfly enthusiast.