Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review of Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East


I am excited whenever a new book is delivered to my door. But I am particularly thrilled with the just-published Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson. Finally we have a guide to the Minnesota Odonata. Last September, I reviewed this volume's western counterpart. I lamented it only included species east to the Dakotas. With both volumes, we now have a chance to identify any Odonate in Minnesota, the United States, and Canada!


An astounding 336 species are covered in this guide, and all are accompanied by at least one stunning color photograph. One drawback to photographs (instead of drawings) is that they show their subjects at different angles. Photographs are also liable to distortion of color due to shade, sun, and camera exposure. Geographically variable species are hard to illustrate with single photographs or single drawings. These guides lack the user-friendly field mark arrows found in other nature guides. (I understand that Peterson copy-righted his arrows.) Many of these creatures are hard to identify and some require microscopic examination.


Species accounts, along with identification tips, cover a description of each species. Also included, along with small but fascinating range maps, are dragonfly natural history, habitat, flight seasons, and short comments, including taxonomic problems or other tidbits. As in the Western guide, the species accounts are preceded by a wonderfully illustrated account of Odonates in general, their life histories, ecology, behavior, flight seasons and reproduction--a must read for anyone wishing to learn about dragon and damselflies. At under $20.00 from Amazaon.com (list is $29.95), this guide is truly a bargain that all naturalists will enjoy. I am excited for next season's Odonata and for future road-trips across the country!

The photo below is of a female White-faced Meadowhawk. This abundant Odonate will sometimes perch on any tall vantage point, as Erika and I know for a fact.

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