Thursday, October 16, 2014

Striped Meadowhawk

On 18 July 2014, as Erika and I drove from Missoula, Montana to our destination in Olympia, Washington, the sky quickly became hazier and darker from smoke from forest fires in Washington and British Columbia. The sky was so dark on the Idaho border that I took a photo of the sun in midmorning. The smoke over Spokane, Washington, was down-right apocalyptic—opaque reddish brown. Emails from family in Olympia warned that the Interstate passes were closed with no visibility and multi-car crashes blocking the highway. Thus we found ourselves in western Washington, heading south to Highway 12 and White Pass. Almost immediately the smoke cleared.

Potholes State Park just south of Moses Lake, is a great place to search for dragonflies. My ode-guru, Scott King, had mentioned the possibility of Striped Meadowhawks during our journey—and that is exactly what greeted us at the state park! This striped thorax is distinctive, at least for adults. Rarely do I know a dragonfly's identity the first time I see it.

Striped Meadowhawks range in western North America from British Columbia to the Southwest, and east to the western Great Plains.  Males defend territories in weedy area and over grassy lawns.  More than other meadowhawks, they often perch in shrubs, and are usually found near water (Paulson 2009). The individuals we photographed were perhaps a quarter-mile from Potholes Reservoir.

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