Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Dragonhunter

My Holy grail of Ohio dragonflies would have to be the Dragonhunter, Hagenius brevistylus. These high speed, death-dealers of the Odonate world prey on any other insect they can take down- including other monster-sized dragonflies. I have seen them before, but it has always been as they zoom past a riverbank at breakneck speeds. Catch them in a net, you say? Good luck on that! They give even the most expert dragonfly hunters a difficult time.

So an eye to eye encounter with a Dragonhunter is a rare opportunity. This one was found freshly liberated from its aquatic form in the nearby Grand River.

A few feet from the river's edge we found this silver-dollar sized exuvia, the shed exoskeleton of a Dragonhunter nymph. Dragonflies spend the beginning of this life cycle as an egg, once hatched- they remain a water-born nymph until they climb of the water and shed their exoskeleton and begin life as a winged adult.

These exuvia are fascinating molds of their previous life form. Each species of dragonfly have their own distinct larva, exuvia and adult form. It is not unlike their insect cousins the butterflies. Butterflies too can be identified by their caterpillar, chrysalis and winged adult form.

Special thanks to John Pogcnik, Guy Denny, Jim Davidson, and Ian Adams for teaching me more about dragonflies on a recent tour of the Grand River. If you would like to learn more about dragons, mark your calendar for June 25th, when Guy Denny will be leading a dragonfly/ butterfly walk at the Bobolinks at Byers woods Festival in Ashland County. More details to come.


  1. Very cool Cheryl and awesome photos! I wish I couldmjoin Ian for his upcoming workshop on the Grand but we're headed to the ?rocky Mountains next week.

  2. Awesome photo's, I got to see a female ovapositing along the Little Darby, I just couldn't get close enough for a photo.