Monday, June 11, 2012

Blue-tipped Dancer

Odonata Central is a robust website dedicated "to make available what we know about the distribution, biogeography, biodiversity, and identification of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) world-wide." A history of this project can be found at Odonata Central is a lot like eBird. I am such an amateur odonatalogist (I even had to make up the word odonatalogist), that I have never contributed to Odonata Central, except Scott K. will submit my noteworthy records after he verifies my identifications.

On Friday Erika and I biked the Cannon Valley Bike Trail from Welch Station to Redwing, Minnesota. Along the trail, at a bench set up to watch an eagle nest in the forest, we found about a half dozen dark damselflies. According to DuBois (Damselflies of the North Woods), no other North Woods damselfly has a dark thorax and a pale blue abdomen tip. Paulson (Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East) continues, this is our "only dancer with its combination of violet, black, and white thorax..."

For the first time in my short odonate-chasing career, I felt confident to try entering this record in Odonata Central. A check on the map for this species indicated that this species is eastern, with Minnesota lying on the northwestern extreme of its range.  Indeed, only three Minnesota records are included on the Odonata Central maps--in Goodhue, Rice, and Washington counties. Furthermore, the Goodhue record lacks a date or a precise location. The way Odonata Central works is that submitted records are checked by experts and then either accepted or rejected. Imagine my delight, a day after submitting my record, to find my discovery accepted!

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