05 June 2011

Acid-loving Odes

We've been waiting for the right time to visit Island Lake SRA this spring for Elfin Skimmers (Nannothemis bella). Given the weather of June 5th and no commitments, we made the trip to Livingston County, Michigan.

Communications with a fellow insectophile provided additional reasons to investigate the Spring Mill Pond area now. Last year we found a large population of Checkered Whites (Pontia protodice) and a few were found in the past week, along with some reddish saddlebags (Tramea sp.) of which one appeared to be Red Saddlebags (T. onusta). Either reddish Tramea would be a county record.

Soon after arriving, several Four-spotted Skimmers (Libellula quadrimaculata) and a male Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea) "greeted" us. This handsome skimmer (L. cyanea) is a species we can't seem to find in our home county of Wayne:

We initially headed west towards the area in which the saddlebags had been sighted, but had no luck finding these. A number of teneral clubtails (Gomphus sp.) were perching along the sandy dunes. We identified one as Lancet Clubtail (Gomphus exilis).

Turning back to the east was the answer. Much of the area must have been an old gravel pit with sand dunes and a long two-track area that holds water and a nice variety of acid-loving plants and animals.

Arriving back at our starting point, we found a couple pairs of Eastern Red Damselflies (Amphiagrion saucium) making more:

A short distance later was the jackpot for the smallest dragonfly in the USA. There must have been three dozen or more Elfin Skimmers (Nannothemis bella) and many were teneral. This species can be easily overlooked since they are less than an inch long. The following photos are misleading about their visibility since they normally fly very low over the vegetation and blend in quite well. Here's a female:

...and a younger male that doesn't have the typical pruinosity of older individuals:

Dozens of Dot-tailed Whitefaces (Leucorrhinia intacta) were flying about, including one whiteface showing a pruinose patch along the abdomen. We quickly realized that we found several individuals of another whiteface species that we'd normally expect to find up north. Examining the wing venation proved these to be Frosted Whitefaces (Leucorrhinia frigida):

While traipsing around the area, we also spied a few Painted Skimmers (Libellula semifasciata), but none were cooperative for a photo. Interestingly, this would also be a county record for Livingston County.

This outing provided a nice variety of dragonflies, some of which we don't see regularly in our home county due to the lack of bog or acidic habitat. Followup visits will be necessary to find additional species.


Emma Springfield said...

I have enjoyed the odes at Island Lake many, many times. It is probably my favorite park in Michigan. Lovely photos. You give me so much information that I believe I am beginning to know a little about them.

Darrin OBrien said...

Emma, thanks for the comment. I was thinking that I wasn't giving enough information. I'm behind on posts for this site and wanted to get something out there.

I have visited again since early June and another post will be written.