29 November 2013

The Odes of Prairie Oaks, Year 1 (through Nov-2013)

It was a little more than a year ago that we moved into our new place outside of Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County.  We weren't sure how the odonata diversity would be on the property due to the limited water features and the drought of 2012.

male Emerald Spreadwing (Lestes dryas):

We have been able to identify 26 species which includes 10 species of damselflies (Zygoptera) and 16 species of dragonflies (Anisoptera). 

Double-striped Bluet (Enallagma basidens):

 female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis):

 Additionally, there are individuals which weren't ID'd.  One female clubtail (Gomphus sp.) perched in a tree out of net range, several darners (Aeshna sp.) patrolled the edge of our woods, and one red-colored saddlebags (Tramea sp.) visited the yard one day.

female Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera):

 White-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum):

What will we find in 2014?

12 October 2013

Unexpected Little Visitor

Last fall we moved into our new place and embarked on documenting the flora and fauna of the property.  With limited water habitats, we thought the species diversity may be low, especially due to the drought of 2012.

On September 4th, Julie was photographing an American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) in our up-and-coming seeded prairie, when a small damselfly caught her attention.  Surprisingly, it was a Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata).  This ode is relatively new to Michigan and there was only one voucher for Washtenaw County from 2012.  We initially found this species in Lenawee County 11 years ago (see UDH paper).  Thus, it was great to also find it on the property.

On September 7th, Julie reminded me to look for the forktail.  Within a minute, a male was found perched on grass:

Here's another closeup:

On September 15th, a male was also observed along the path in our old field:

16 September 2013

Epiaeschna breeding "hotspot"

While wandering around our swamp on June 29, 2013, we found an exuvia of a male Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros).  This is only the 3rd specimen of an exuvia of this species from Michigan, and more interestingly, the 2nd specimen from this location! (We found the 1st specimen while walking the property prior to our purchase last year.)

This exuvia was on the only cattail in the 1.5 acre swamp in our 11-acre property in Lodi Township.

Here's an early spring scene from March-2013 which gives an idea of the habitat:

The exuvia was found in the area on the right side of the image above.

Here's an adult female that was patrolling our old field on June 26th:

Let's hope she laid more eggs for exuviae to be found in future years.

15 September 2013

Early Season Odes in Arizona

I spent a few days at the end of March, 2013, in Yuma, AZ at the Cocopah RV Park.  I knew there should be some ode potential since the season had been abnormally warm and water sources were present such as the Colorado River and ponds created by agricultural and/or golf course runoff.

 It wasn't the most attractive area, since Border Patrol had the reservation clear vegetation along the banks of the river.  However, it made access to the water's edge much easier.

The pockets of downed vegetation also provided shelter from the breeze/wind which made finding damselflies possible.  Most were teneral or young such as this one which appeared to be a male Blue-ringed Dancer (Argia sedula):

Others were a bit more mature such as this male of the same species:

Also, present were Familiar Bluets (Enallagma civile):

Patrolling the edges were a couple Common Green Darners (Anax junius):

There was a small boat launch which helped me with a bit more access to find a Rambur's Forktail (Ischnura ramburii):

... and a female American Rubypot (Hetaerina americana):

There were also a couple of ponds.  This one wasn't maintained and only filled with water when the farmer filled the ditch to irrigate his adjacent agricultural fields.

The Spot-winged Gliders (P. hymenaea) patrolled the edges, such as this male:

Closer to the golf course, were another couple of wet spots from sprinkler runoff.  Additional species were present, such as this female Desert Firetail  (Telebasis salva):

...and this Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata):

... and finally this digiscoped Western Pondhawk (Erythemis collocata):

This didn't turn out to be a large number of species, but seeing this variety was great considering this was as early as March 25th.

13 June 2013

Finally -- The Odonata of Wayne County

After 10+ years of field work; months of literature searches and poking through old specimens; and a year or so of writing, editing, and post-production, our paper on the county odes has been published:

Craves, J. A.. and D. S. O’Brien. 2013. The Odonata of Wayne County, Michigan: Inspiration for renewed monitoring of urban areas. Northeastern Naturalist 20:341-362.

You'll find a checklist in a new tab at the top of the page here on Urban Dragon Hunters.

This is a great journal, and we encourage people to subscribe to get access to the whole paper, which includes, as the title indicates, justification and encouragement of insect monitoring in urban areas.