Monday, June 8, 2015

Big Dragonfly Day Part 1

On 2 June 2015, I accompanied Scott King to two locations in nearby Washington County, northeast of St. Paul, Minnesota. We spent a fabulous day dragonflying. The first place we visited was the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center, privately owned by the Science Museum of Minnesota. Oddly the Center is closed to the general public, opened only to school groups and other classes. Scott knew one of the employees and has done dragonfly censuses for the center. 
The acres around the center are gorgeous and contain several clear, unpolluted lakes. We heard a calling loon and we were greeted by thousands of dragonflies. The first two photos are of Chalk-fronted Corporals. The woods were full of these dragonflies, which are often found in large swarms.  The upper individual is an immature. As they age, they acquire the blue-gray pruinosity evident in the second photo. All ages consume mosquitos and Blackflies, and thus should be welcome community members. I have previously written about how this dragonfly gets its name.
Above the lakes swarmed hundreds of Emeralds. The first is a Racket-tailed Emerald. I had only seen this species once before, at Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Dakota County. Several alighted in the reeds along the lake edge. Note the uneven yellow band at the base of the abdomen. A new dragonfly for me was the American Emerald. As you can see in the photo below, the yellow ring around the base of its abdomen is narrow and even. 
American Emeralds are found from eastern Canada and the Appalachian Mountains west to Alaska and the mountains of California. Racket-tails are more restricted in range, found from Minnesota to eastern Canada and New England. Both fly over marshes and open water. Racket-tailed Emeralds also fly through forests and more often land on the ground and perch in forest openings (Paulson 2011).

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