Photo of the Week – September 26, 2013

If found this dragonfly encased in dew a couple weeks ago as I walked through a small prairie here in Aurora.  I’m sure someone reading this will be able to tell me what species it is – I don’t know my dragonflies very well.

Dew-covered dragonfly on pitcher sage.  Lincoln Creek Prairie - Aurora, Nebraska.  September 13, 2013

Dew-covered dragonfly on pitcher sage. Lincoln Creek Prairie – Aurora, Nebraska. September 13, 2013

There were a couple of these in the prairie that morning, but we’ve also been seeing some bigger groups (flocks?  herds? swarms?) of other dragonfly species coming through Nebraska lately on their annual migrations.  Many more insect species migrate than you might expect, including (at least) moths, butterflies, and dragonflies.  I expect we’ll learn a tremendous amount about these phenomena during the next decade as efforts to study those migrations continue to ramp up.  Technology, including tiny radio transmitters, will help, as will volunteer citizen science efforts to gather sightings from across large areas.  It will be exciting to learn more about what seems an improbable but very interesting behavior from insects we don’t give nearly enough credit to.

You can learn more about insect migration from an earlier post I wrote on moths last year, as well as another post on intercontinental insect migrations.

Finally, if you are interested in nature photography or prairie ecology and are within driving distance of Lincoln, you might enjoy the lecture I’m giving tomorrow night for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.  More information on the event and ticket information is available here.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
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9 Responses to Photo of the Week – September 26, 2013

  1. tony g says:

    this is a Variegated Meadowhawk

  2. Steve Hummel says:

    The dragonfly is Sympetrum corruptum, varigated meadowhawk.

  3. Natalie Matz says:

    I am excited to hear about the talk you’ll be giving. Andy and I will try to make it.

  4. Lisa says:

    Although I live too far away to attend the lecture, I was pleased to see that it is part of a series memorializing Joe and Dorothy Young. I worked for Joe at the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum in the late 70’s. He was a gentle soul, an “old man of the prairie”, and a wonderful naturalist. Just caution those tree folks not to get too carried away about it here on the prairie!

  5. Erik Nickels says:

    What I love about this blog is than you never see the same thing twice; there is so much variety on the prairie!

  6. Hi Chris, I love the photo! I’m glad you got the dragonfly identified. I enjoyed your talk and photos the other night. I’m glad you are doing this work to take care of prairies. If you get a chance, visit my blog to see how some prairie plants are doing in our small city yard. I wonder how many of them are actually in the prairies we have here. Do you ever see Gray-headed coneflowers, Mountain mints, or Culver’s root growing naturally? Also, if you are interested, I’d love to have you join the group Gardening with Nature in Mind on Facebook.

  7. Jacob says:

    I’m surprised to see that insects travel so far, because of their small size.

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