Monday, July 12, 2010

My what big teeth you have!

The Great Lakes Odonata Meeting provided some wonderful opportunities to learn from the dragonfly experts. We spent a good deal of time wading the Big Darby, which was not a bad job during Ohio's steamy heat in July. Other trips went farther afield for the rarities, and we also spent some time locally with pond species.

Comet Darner in flight- photo by John Howard

Comet Darners are a sight to behold at three inches long, these mega-insects have a cherry red abdomen. Don't wait for them to land for a photo, as they never seem to perch. John Howard shot this portrait of a darner in mid-flight in Adams County. Considered rare, they are easily distinguished from the frequently seen Common Green Darners.

All dragonflies start their lives under water as nymphs. Some larger species may spend two or three years in the larval form before they emerge from the water, split out of their "exoskeleton" or shell, and fly away. Occasionally, one may find their exuvia - the shed exoskeleton- on a reed or grass where the insect emerged.

My what big teeth and jaws you have! The Comet Darner's exuvia is readily noted by the monstrous proportions of the jaw. I have outlined the photo in blue, to show the jaw extends clear back to the 3rd leg. That's like having teeth down to your belly-button! No wonder so many science fiction monsters look like they were modeled after dragonfly larva!

Thanks to these knowledgeable guides and leaders from Ohio Odonata Society and the Batelle-Darby Metro Parks. Erik Pilgrim, Bob Glotzhober (blue shirt in fore ground), Bob Restifo, Andrew Boose, and Mac Albin. It was a wonderful weekend!


  1. You're giving me new appreciation for dragonflies! That is really cool about how big the larvae jaws are.

  2. The more you learn about dragonflie- the more amazing they are! Different species require different habitats for breeding, so there are pond and stream specific species!

    Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio (Rosche et al) is a great book for learning them.