Posts Tagged: variegated meadowhawk
Don't you just love those dragonflies?
We watch them circle our fish pond, grab flying insects in mid-air, and then touch down on a bamboo stake in our yard to eat them. Some dragonflies stay for hours; others for what seems like half a second. Some let you walk up to them and touch them. Others are so skittish that they must have once encountered a nasty predator with a bad attitude and a big appetite unfulfilled.
We've observed several different species in our yard (thanks to naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, for identifying the Sympetrums and the "widow skimmer," Libellula luctosa).
The ones we've photographed:
- Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer (Libellula saturata), a common dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to western North America.
- Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum), a dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to North America.
- Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa), part of the King Skimmers group of dragonflies that are found throughout much of the United States, except in John Denver territory (The Rockies). You can find them in parts of Canada, including southern Ontario and Quebec.
- Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum), found throughout much of the United States (Alaska, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming) and much of Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon)
Can you believe dragonflies were some of the first winged insects that evolved 300 millions years ago? And that the order they belong to, Odonata, means "toothed one" in Greek?
Can you believe that globally, we have more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies?
Can you believe that dragonflies eat only the prey they catch in mid-air? And that they grab them with their feet? Umm, dead bee on the ground? No, thanks!
Can you believe that dragonfly called the globe skinner has the longest migration of any insect—11,000 miles back and forth across the Indian Ocean?
For those and other interesting facts, be sure to read Sarah Zielinski's "14 fun facts about dragonflies" published Oct. 5, 2011 in smithsonian.com
For a close look at some of the Bohart Museum's collection of dragonflies, you can visit the insect museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, from Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. noon, and from noon to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays). Admission is free. You can even buy dragonfly-related items in the gift shop. That would include posters (the work of Greg Kareofelas and Fran Keller) and jewelry.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million insect specimens. And not just dragonflies, bees and butterflies. There are critters you've never seen before. And some, such as the Xerces butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), are extinct.
The Bohart's next weekend open house, the last of the 2013-2014 academic year, is Saturday, July 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. The theme focuses on spiders: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?" It's family-oriented and free and open to the public. (For more information contact Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer (Libellula saturata). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're around creeks, ponds and irrigation ditches, watch for the dragonflies.
We spotted scores of variegated meadowhawks (Sympetrum corruptum) last Sunday along an irrigation ditch bordering a sunflower field in Winters, Calif.
Like helicopters, they hovered, soared, dropped, sped up and slowed down. Dragonflies can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour, according to an article, "Chasing Dragons," in the current edition of Audubon.
Written by Jill U. Adams, the article details the art of watching dragonflies, and how this is becoming a passion like birdwatching.
Entomologists call dragonflies "odes," after their order, Odonata. They're also called "dragons."
"Dating back more than 250 million years, odes were around long before the dinosaurs appeared," Adams wrote.
"Odes are easy enough to find at a pond or stream around mid-morning, after the sun has warmed the air. They fly and perch, hunt and mate, from spring until fall."
She quotes dragonfly expert Larry Federman, education coordinator for the three Audubon New York sanctuaries, as saying: "Once you start watching dragonflies, you can't help but notice how amazing they are. They fly at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, zip forward and backward, pivot in a flash and hover with ease. They prey on live insects in midair, snapping up small bugs with their mouths or grabbing larger ones with their legs, then perching to devour them."
In Winters, we watched their mating rituals. Their bodies hooked together, their double set of wings glittering like precious jewels, they dazzled us with their maneuvers, speed and beauty. So fast, so very fast. (But things are not what they seem; be sure to read National Geographic's piece on the dragonfly mating game.)
What's spectacular about the Audubon feature is a row of 16 dragonfly abdomens lined up like arrowheads or surfboards.
And yes, among the 16 abdomens: the variegated meadowhawk.
It's not as striking as the flame skimmer (that one is firecracker red!), but its coloration is sure to please.
Variegated meadowhawk, Sympetrum corruptum, glows in the early morning. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A camouflaged variegated meadowhawk. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Dragonfly mating ritual. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's not just the honey bees that will be foraging in the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
Scores of native bees and other insects will be there, too.
They already are.
A weekend visit to the haven, a bee friendly garden being developed next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, revealed assorted insects, including a dragonfly and a hover fly.
A sage attracted the dragonfly, a Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corrugatum, family Libellulidae), while a strawberry blossom drew the hover fly (Syrphidae, probably genus Paragus sp.).
Emeritus professor and pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, who maintains an office in the Laidlaw facility, is monitoring the level of bee activity at the site. He began establishing baseline data (for bees only) in March.
For two sample days (March 20 and April 19) he found a total of 21 species of bees. As of this week, the number has now reached: 41.
The haven will be a year-around food source for bees and an educational experience for two-legged visitors, who will not only learn about honey bees and native bees but learn what to plant to attract them.
A public celebration of the haven is planned in the fall of 2010 when the haven will be bursting with blossoms. And next to the haven will be the Campus Buzzway, a wildflower garden filled with California poppies, lupine and coreopsis.
Tiny Hover Fly
Dragonfly on Sage