By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader
One of the better aspects of my job is joining the Delaware Nature Society’s Advanced Naturalist Club on field trips. The Club is a group of graduates from the Naturalist Certification Series that the Society offers annually, so they know each other, have a deep common interest in nature, and enjoy a bit of adventure outdoors.
In July, I accompanied the group on a field trip with Hal White, Author of “Natural History of Delmarva Dragonflies and Damselflies”. Mike Moore, a University of Delaware Professor, also joined us as a leader. Mike maintains the website Delmarva Dragonflies and Damselflies. We all met up at Lums Pond State Park for to look for Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies), sometimes “Odes” for short. One thing you need to know about looking for Odes, is that you need to get your feet wet.
Looking for dragonflies and damselflies requires getting your feet wet, or in this case, wading into Lums Pond. Some of us got a lot more of our bodies wet than our feet! Photo by Joe Sebastiani
We waded into Lums Pond. We waded into a Delmarva Bay (small temporary wetland) near the nature center. We waded through mud and up a small creek. We bushwhacked through the woods, and shuffled up a trail in a thicket. Hal led the way, pointing out the Odes as he went. Mike stayed in the back and pointed out even more. Cameras were getting a workout, and field guides were consulted. Notes were taken. In all, it was a naturalists heaven.
Here is a skin of a dragonfly that had emerged recently from a small wetland near the Lums Pond Nature Center. It is kind of like a cicada skin on a tree. Photo by Joe Sebastiani.
This Cyrano Darner had a broken wing and couldn’t fly well, so it was easy to catch, study, and photograph. Photo by Joe Sebastiani
Widow Skimmers are abundant in our area during the summer. We get lucky sometimes I guess, since they are one of the more colorful and beautiful of our dragonflies (in my opinion!). Photo by Joe Sebastiani
After a few hours at Lums Pond, we decided to go to a very unique wetland in the C&D Canal Wildlife Area. It is located in an area where they dumped lots of soil and debris when the canal was built. The wetland is a shallow, mucky, sedge meadow with some standing water and tons of dragonflies and damselflies. We followed Hal and Mike into the waters once again, keeping clear of deeper spots that we were told had “quicksand”. No need to tell us twice about that!
Hal White takes a sweep for his prey…a Carolina Saddlebags dragonfly. Photo by Joe Sebastiani
Mike Moore shows off the Carolina Saddlebags to the Advanced Naturalist Club. Photo by Joe Sebastiani
It was a great day out, and it really nudged me to become better at the identification of Odonates. Our Club got a new appreciation for the Dragonflies and Damselflies, age-old predators that are fascinating to watch, photograph, and enjoy.
The Odonates come in a variety of colors and sizes, with different habitat preferences, life cycles, and habits. Our trip with Hal White and Mike Moore opening up a new way to appreciate the natural world for the Advanced Naturalist Club. Photo of this Needham’s Skimmer by Joe Sebastiani
Register for the Naturalist Certification Series which will begin in March 2014. The class explores eight topics in nature including insects, and students learn through a lecture and field trip for each topic. After you graduate from the Series, you can join the Advanced Naturalist Club!
If you are interested in a list of the Dragonflies and Damselflies we found on our field trip on July 27th, take a look at the list Hal White compiled for me below:
Lums Pond State Park (21 Species)
Anax junius (Common Green Darner) A few, lots of exuviae at the Whale Wallow
Epiaeschna heros (Swamp Darner) a couple of females ovipositing in wet swale along trail
Nasiaeschna pentacantha (Cyrano Darner) a couple seen, One caught for display at the Whale Wallow
Macromia taeniolata (Royal River Cruiser) One seen briefly at Lums Pond
Celithemis eponina (Halloween Pennant) one or two seen at the impoundment
Erythemis simplicicollis (Eastern Pondhawk) a few seen
Libellula cyanea (Spangled Skimmer) a few seen
L. incesta (Slaty Skimmer) fairly common
L. luctuosa (Widow Skimmer) a couple seen
L. needhami (Needham’s Skimmer) four at the impoundment, Initially mistaken at a distance for Painted Skimmer.
L. pulchella (Twelve-spotted Skimmer) one seen
L. vibrans (Great Blue Skimmer) a few along the power line cut
Pachydiplax longipennis (Blue Dasher) Very Common
Perithemis tenera (Eastern Amberwing) a few at impoundment
Plathemis lydia (Common Whitetail) very common
Calopteryx maculata (Ebony Jewelwing) a few at small stream entering the impoundment
Lestes rectangularis (Slender Spreadwing) two females seen at Whale Wallow
Argia apicalis (Blue-fronted Dancer) Frequent around main pond
Enallagma durum (Big Bluet() one at main pond
Ischnura hastata (Citrine Forktail) a couple in grass by impoundment
I. posita (Fragile Forktail) 2-3 seen
Sedge Meadow north of C&D Canal near MD state line (17 species)
Anax junius (Common Green Darner) common
A. longipes (Comet darner) two seen
Epiaeschna heros (Swamp Darner) one seen
Celithemis elisa (Calico Pennant “Valentine Pennant”) frequent
C. eponina (Halloween Pennant) a few
Erythemis simplicicollis (Eastern Pondhawk) a few
Libellula cyanea (Spangled Skimmer) one seen
L. luctuosa (Widow Skimmer) one seen
L. needhami (Needham’s Skimmer) one seen
L. pulchella (Twelve-spotted Skimmer) one seen
Pachydiplax longipennis (Blue Dasher) very common
Plathemis Lydia (Common Whitetail) a few
Sympetrum vicinum (Autumn Meadowhawk) one teneral seen
Tramea carolina (Carolina Saddlebags) very common
T. lacerata (Black Saddlebags) a few seen
Enallagma aspersum (Turquoise Bluet) a few seen
Ischnura hastata (Citrine Forktail) fairly common