Wednesday, May 13, 2009
So I was watering some recently planted stuff in the back when I noticed a bright streak of orange flying by close to my head. As dragonflies are likely to do, it perched on these inverted dried grass stalks at a foot or so above (my) head height of just over 5 feet. So I was able to approach quite close and watch as the dragonfly launched itself after prey overhead and returned repeatedly to the same perch to chew and pose. Eventually I got a bit too bold, putting my finger on the stalk just a few inches from it after which this dragonfly (female neon skipper, Libellula croceipennis I believe, based on the bright venation of the clear wings) took off and did not return at least as long as I was looking. I suppose she will return, since they are creatures of habit and this particular perch seemed to meet the repeated perching needs of this particular creature.
These insects are said to breed in slowly running or standing water; where that occurs in my notably dry neighborhood remains to be discovered.
5/16 update: This article reports on a survey done to assess the stability of the world's odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) species. No specifics in the piece about north American species, but an interesting comment about the lack of concrete data on insect populations and susceptibilities to extinction. A lot of jobs out there for naturalists, but who is going to pay them?