Tag: dragonflies (Page 2 of 3)

Bug of the Week: Dragonfly Names

Dragonflies have such delightful common names.

If you have ever seen dragonflies flying over a pond, you know why many have the common name “skimmer.”

flame-skimmerTake the flame skimmer, so called because the mature males have a orange to red head and abdomen. This newly-emerged male hasn’t developed his full coloration yet.

roseate-skimmer-back-closeThe male roseate skimmer has a magenta or purplish hue.

dragonfly-on-redbird

Other dragonflies named for their colors include the Mexican amberwings, which are smaller than flame skimmers.

The name darner seems appropriate, given their long, slender body.

green-darner-dragonfly(Public domain photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org.)

Take this common and widespread species, the green darner.

Here’s a list of other whimsical dragonfly names:

  • pondhawk
  • meadowhawk
  • dasher
  • glider

How about the black-winged dragonlet at the Arizona Dragonflies website?

What is the name of your favorite dragonfly?

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Want to learn more? Consider picking up a field guide, such as Stokes Beginner’s Guide to Dragonflies

Disclosure:  I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link or cover image and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Bug of the Week: Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly

Last week the weather was lovely and we went for a little hike. We noticed some midges hovering in a cluster over the trail and then we noticed dragonflies hunting the midges.

roseate-skimmer-back-close

The air was suddenly filled with roseate skimmer dragonflies, Orthemis ferruginea.

roseate-skinmmer-front-view

Unfortunately the photographs¬† just don’t show the amazing color they were. Imagine a shimmering purple to magenta.

Theses are males, based on color. The females are brown. Arizona Dragonflies has more photographs.

Roseate skimmers are found throughout North America and even into northern South America.

Have you ever seen one?

Weekend Science Fun: Dragonfly and Damselfly Science

This week we have a few wonderful resources for learning more about dragonflies and damselflies.

Introduction to Dragonflies and Damselflies

What is a dragonfly and what is a damselfly?

Dragonflies are the large, showy insects that you see around ponds and other bodies of water. When they land on a plant or other object, they hold their wings straight out.

Damselflies, on the other hand, are usually a bit finer, more delicate looking. They rest with their wings folded behind their backs.

Look closely and you will see they often sport bright colors, such as red, green and bright blue. They can be just as colorful and fun to watch as birds or butterflies.

Dragonfly and Damselfly Life Cycles

The adult female dragonflies and damselflies lay their eggs in the water, or on plants or debris in or near the water. The eggs hatch into nymphs (sometimes also called naiads) that feed on other organisms in the water. After a year or two, they crawl to the surface and the adult emerges. There is no transitional or pupal stage.

1. Dragonfly watching

Nothing beats strolling out to a pond, stream or lake and simply watching dragonflies and damselflies in action.

One of the first things you notice when you see dragonflies or damselflies is their strong ability to fly. They have four wings, and can move the fore and hind wings independently. Their wing movement may not be easy to see until you capture them on film.

In this video clip, you can see a dragonfly’s amazing flight slowed down.

Often dragonflies are searching for food when they are flying. They catch other flying insects, such as mosquitoes, while on the wing. In this video you can see dragonflies catching flying termites (although the video title identifies the prey as ants).

According to a recent newspaper article, Arizona dragonfly watching a growing hobby at the Arizona Republic, dragonfly watching is increasing in popularity. Several of our local nature areas are now offering dragonfly walks lead by experts. Check in your area for local events related to dragonflies, especially in the summer.

2. Dragonfly Swarms

I recently found a wonderful blog called The Dragonfly Woman. University of Arizona Entomology Ph.D. student Christine Goforth has started a citizen science project about dragonfly swarming (more about that in a minute), plus has loads of cool information about dragonflies and insects in general.

What is a dragonfly swarm? When a group of insects gather together in a large group, for whatever purpose, it is often called a swarm. In the case of dragonflies, the swarm may be a bunch of dragonflies feeding together at one location. This is called a static swarm. Dragonflies can also form large groups and move from place to place. This is called a migratory swarm.

Christine’s video of a dragonfly swarm:

Are you interested in a citizen science project? The Dragonfly Woman has been collecting reports of dragonfly swarms throughout the world. Check her blog for summaries from last year and to report a dragonfly swarm yourself.

You might like to see Dragonfly Woman’s posts about making a dragonfly collection using a scanner as well. I love the idea of being able to preserve the insect’s image and let the dragonfly go again.

Edit: I just found this lovely dragonfly craft, and knew I had to add it here.

Do dragonflies occur where you live? Have you ever seen a dragonfly swarm?

My related posts:

Review of Dragonflies of North America book for kids

Photographs of dragonflies and damselflies

Some great books about dragonflies:

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