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
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.
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.
Here are three photos from the last couple weeks that didn’t fit into any particular story or theme. Each is from a different prairie, and each was the result of a quick opportunistic stop in the midst of doing something else. The pitcher sage photo (immediately below) came after I walked past a patch of the flowers and then backed up to capture the image that stuck in my head when I first walked past. I noticed the soldier beetle (second photo) as I was walking back to take more photos of the praying mantis eating the sphinx moth. Finally, I spotted the bee sitting on a dew-covered gayfeather flower (third photo) as I got out of my truck to work on a fence project at our farm.
Pitcher sage (Salvia azurea) in our plant diversity research plots. Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.
A soldier beetle on a grass leaf. Lincoln Creek Prairie – Aurora, Nebraska.
A male long-horned bee (Melissodes sp) on dotted gayfeather (Liatris punctata). Helzer family prairie – south of Aurora, Nebraska.