Discover Dragonflies!

Today we had a wonderful guest speaker, Don Henise, present a terrific program on identifying dragonflies.  After an comprehensive indoor slide presentation, we hit the trails to look for dragon- and damselflies.

I’ve done my best to label some of the species we saw.

DSC_0092spring azureNow, obviously, this is not a dragonfly – it’s a spring azure, a very small butterfly.

DSC_0101 eastern forked tail male lightenedA colorful male eastern forktail damselfly.

DSC_0209 female eastern forktail cropped

And the slightly less-colorful female eastern forktail.

DSC_0126 12-spotted skimmer cropTwelve-spotted skimmers were all over the place.  This is a male, which is easily distinguished from the female by the presence of the bluish-white spots on the wings.

DSC_0171 imm. widow skimmer male good lightWidow skimmers were also out in good numbers, both at the pond and in the fields.  This is an immature male.  Like the 12-spotted, the male widow skimmer has bluish-white patches on the wings.  As it matures, the orange stripes along its abdomen                      will also turn bluish-white.

   DSC_0219 blue dasher cropAnother dragonfly that was out in profuse numbers at the pond was the blue dasher.

DSC_0220 baby painted turtle cropped

  Just as I was leaving the pond, I caught sight of this tiny painted turtle.  It caught sight of me, too, and quickly plopped below the water.


DSC_0253 halloween pennant cropped

After leaving the pond, we headed for the grassland, which was full of Halloween pennants, which are a beautiful copper and black.

DSC_0268 seven-spotted ladybug crop

And I was pleased to find this seven-spotted ladybug…until I verified that it is one of the ladybugs introduced from Europe.  Finding native ladybugs is becoming harder and harder to do.


DSC_0275 spangled fritillariesGreat spangled fritillaries were also all over the place.  These large orange and black butterflies might be mistaken for monarchs at a distance by novice butterfly-watchers.  Sadly, we’ve seen very few monarchs this year – like maybe three.   Numbers are way down.

DSC_0282 imm. male common whitetailThis fellow was very well camouflaged along the edge of the Bug Field.  It’s an immature male common whitetail.

DSC_0296 imm. ruby meadowhawk maybeDon was thinking this was an immature male ruby meadowhawk.  Ruby and cherry-faced meadowhawks are difficult to tell apart – they, along with the white-faced meadowhawk, form the White-face/Cherry-face/Ruby Complex.

spreadwing croppedThis little spreadwing damselfly surprised me by popping up in the field…and then just as quickly vanishing.  I’m not sure which spreadwing it is.

A few other species were spotted, but I was unable to capture them with the camera.  I may be returning tomorrow, though, armed with my tripod, to see if I can get some better images of some of our local dragonflies.  It looks like it will be another nice day…if a bit warm.  Perhaps I’ll see you out here!


About Dahlem Center

The Dahlem Center is a non-profit nature center/environmental education center located on almost 300 acres just south of the city of Jackson, Michigan. The Center is one arm of the Dahlem Conservancy, which includes land conservancy and stewardship in its mission.
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