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Mid-summer dragonfly watch

This is a female Calico Pennant, as indicated by the yellow triangles on the abdomen; the male would have red triangles. Due to its wing pattern, this species is sometimes mistaken for the Halloween Pennant.


August 21, 2013

Along the shore of any given body of water, whether it’s a lake, river or stream, insects are usually very obvious. There may be some flies hatching out, butterflies and moths, and even some pesky mosquitoes or other biting bugs. The pesky biters are in jeopardy themselves from another group of insects that are on the prowl—the odonata family, or dragonflies and damselflies.

With our many waterways and wetland habitats, dragonflies and damselflies thrive in the region. Take Pike County, for example: according to the Pike County Natural Heritage Inventory published in July 2011 as part of a statewide survey by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, there were 121 dragonflies and 55 damselflies inventoried within the county.

Dragonfly watching is much like bird watching; different species emerge from nymph stage at different times of the summer, so there is always a variety. You can get pretty close to some species, but binoculars will help with ones further out and to also help with species ID. Different habitats will yield different species; you may see an entirely different set of species at a river than near a lake. Even though your house may be away from water, you may even spot some odonata in your yard. Thanks to their sometimes brilliant colors and super flying ability, dragonfly spotting is a good way to enhance your outdoor experience.