Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dragonflies: big and small

Another thrill from the recent dragonfly meeting was my first opportunity to see a some of Ohio's most unique dragonflies- including the Tiger Spiketail.

Tiger Spiketail- photo by William Hull

These three inch giants may be large, but flying low over a stream in dimly lit woods makes it difficult to find and nearly impossible to photograph. Tiger Spiketails are a species of concern which require high-quality shallow streams with sandy bottoms.

Here's what a great "Tiger stakeout" looks like. We each choose a section of stream to watch, and called out any passing dragonflies. Greg Cornet got the bead on our quarry first, as I was in my usual day-dreaming mode when it first flew past me!
Female Tiger Spiketail Photo by Bill Hull http://www.mangoverde.com/
Females oviposit like a pogo-stick... dabbing eggs into the sand. If we had seen a female, she might have looked like this one loaned by Bill Hull for this post. Be sure to check out his web site for some amazing dragon photos and much more!

Cedar Bog near Urbana is the home of the other rarest dragonflies, listed as endangered in Ohio. The Elfin Skimmer is the smallest of our dragonflies; this beautiful blue male is just under an inch long.

The female is a wasp mimic, and would be easy to overlook as she perches along the dried vegetation inches off the boardwalk. Their flight period is mid-July, so you'll want to make a pilgrimage soon to see this little wonder.
Cedar Bog also has loads of interesting flora as well, and will be one of the field trips for the Midwest Native Plant conference. Just click on the logo in the side panel of the blog to go to the registrations page. Hope to see you there!!!

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