What Visited My Blacklight Last Week (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

I am part of a grant that is bringing together science and writing by partnering science museums, like the one where I work, with local chapters of the National Writing Project to create K-12 educational programs.  I’ll share more specifics about the activities we’re offering later (they’ll be online, so you can participate too!), but the activity that my team is developing and rolling out to the public next month explores nocturnal insects.  As my team’s science museum representative, it falls to me to create the science-related content that supports our activities – field guides, photos, videos, etc.  One of the things the English teachers and poets on my team really wanted was a time-lapse video of my blacklight sheet.  So, I took a camera out a few nights ago, snapped 2700 photos of my sheet, and this is the result:

Now, what I get on my blacklighting sheet in North Carolina is nothing compared to what I used to see in Arizona, but it’s still interesting to see what came to the light.  My favorite part: the damsel bug that shows up in about the last 30 seconds and starts eating other insects on the sheet.  :)

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy a glimpse at the insects I’ve been seeing at my backyard blacklight recently!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 8/1/15 – 8/15/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

I’m a week behind again, but determined to get caught up!  Swarms were reported from the following locations over the last two weeks:

USA:

La Mesa, CA
Mission Hills, CA
San Diego, CA
New Smyrna Beach, FL
Iowa City, IA (2 swarms)
Iowa City, IA
Lisbon, IA
Mount Vernon, IA
West Liberty, IA
Athens, IL
Bement, IL
Chicago, IL (14 swarms)
Evanston, IL (2 swarms)
Galena, IL
Glenview, IL (2 swarms)
Ingleside, IN
Sterling, IL
Villa Grove, IL
Albion, IN
Bloomington, IN (2 swarms)
Carmel, IN
Fort Eayne, IN
Gary, IN
Huntington, IN
Vincennes, IN
Whitestown, IN
Crittenden, KY
Marshfield, MA (2 swarms)
North Brookfield, MA
Pepperell, MA
Princeton, MA
Scituate, MA
Fairfield, ME
Falmouth, ME
Portland, ME
Columbus, MI (2 swarms)
Gladwin, MI
Lakeport, MI
Livonia, MI
Newberry, MI
Ray, MI
Willis, MI
Chatfield, MN
Chesterfield, MO (2 swarms)
Holt, MO
Sibley, MO
St Louis, MO
Lucedale, MS
Woodville, MS
Holden Beach, NC
Grafton, NE
Hampstead, NH
Kensington, NH
North Haverhill, NH
Buffalo, NY
Claverack, NY
Grafton, NY
Greene, NY
Peru, NY
Troy, NY
South Vienna, OH
Twinsburg, OH
Vermilion, OH
Fields, OR
Pen Argyl, PA
Tunkhannock, PA
Bacliff, TX (2 swarms)
Corpus Christi, TX
Denton, TX
Fort Worth, TX
Rose City, TX
Virginia Beach, VA
Charlotte, VT
Stockbridge, VT
Holmen, WI
Janesville, WI
Kenosha, WI
Middelton, WI
Milwaukee, WI (3 swarms)
Casper, WY

Canada:

Bancroft, ON
Bracebridge, ON
Dwight, ON
Haliburton, ON
Mississauga, ON
Orrville, ON

Guatemala:

Momostenango, Totonicapan

And here are the US maps for the last two weeks:

8.2.15 to 8.8.15

8.9.15 to 8.15.15

 

Click the maps to enlarge!

Lots of activity reported from the northeastern US, including the areas around the upper Midwest and New England.  Starting to look a lot more like the migration season is upon us!  Next week I expect to start seeing increased reporting in the mid-Atlantic states and perhaps a few more in Nebraska, Arkansas, and Missouri.

This is the prime season for swarms, so be on the lookout in your area!  If you’re along the east coast or any of the rivers in the Midwest, you’re likely to see swarms over the next few weeks.  Hope you’ll report any you see!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Why I Carry a Huge Camera With Me Everywhere I Go (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

This photo…

snowberry clearwing moth on Lantana

… is a good example of why I get itchy any time I leave my camera behind. My husband and I went to a local shopping center last weekend and I debated whether to bring my camera with me or not. I thought to myself, “Surely I won’t find anything there worthy of carrying my bulky, heavy camera!” and left my trusty point and shoot that almost never leaves my side on my table at home. Moments after we arrived at the shopping center, I spotted some insects flying around a Lantana. That snowberry clearwing moth in the photo  was one of several on that stupid plant! I have been hoping to see another one for TWO years so I could get a good photo, and there were half a dozen of them. Luckily, the camera on my iPhone is pretty decent and I got some reasonably good shots anyway, but I’m still kicking myself for that one. Gonna go back tomorrow and see if I can find more moths – and this time I’ll be prepared!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Collecting Dragonflies with Girls in Science (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

This post is going to be a bit longer than my usual Wednesday posts.  It’s not going to live up to the Well-Nigh Wordless name today, but I feel the need to tell a longer story, you know?

A while back, I posted a photo and told a story about a group of girls that I worked with last year that was particularly wonderful.  This group of girls included mostly low-income, mostly minority, teenage girls, a combination that often (in my experience at least) means that the students aren’t at all interested in what I have to teach them and they don’t want to do the activity I have planned.  Anyone who’s worked with groups of teenagers knows how important appearances are to that age group and how it’s often not cool for a teen, especially a teen girl, to show an interest in something like a dragonfly.  Few things break my heart like seeing that one kid who really wants to play with some bugs, who wants to learn, but pretends to hate it like everyone else so he/she doesn’t stand out.  That was 100% not the case with the group I worked with last summer!  They were THRILLED about the dragonflies and were completely and utterly engaged the entire two hours I spent with them.  I practically had to drag them back inside when our time was up.  That experience ended up being one of the highlights of my year.

I returned to do the same presentation for the new group of girls attending this year’s camp today and was worried: surely lightning doesn’t strike twice?  To my very great pleasure, this group was even better than last year’s!  EVERY girl in the group, even the two who were screaming every time a butterfly came near them, ended up catching at least one dragonfly.  Two girls caught 10 dragonflies each in the 40 minutes we were outside and another couple of girls caught 7 and 8 respectively.  Girls who probably haven’t intentionally run in years were chasing dragonflies down with the nets and made some of THE most impressive catches I’ve ever seen.  It was AWESOME!!  Here’s the group headed down the trail after successfully catching nearly a dozen dragonflies at the little stream that runs near the center where the camp is held:

campers walking down the greenway

I just have to say that, as someone who LOVES teaching people about insects and getting people outside to learn about the natural world, moments like these remind you of why you put up with any crap you have to deal with in your job.  These are the moments that make up for anything that’s ever gone wrong, any group that hated what you presented, and completely validate your career choices.  I am still on this amazing high from working with this group today – and I hope it lasts the rest of the week!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 6/28/15 – 8/1/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logoI’m a bit behind on reports, but a lot of swarms have occurred recently!  Swarms were reported from the following locations over the last four weeks:

USA:

Greenwood, AR
Jacksonville, AR
Jonesboro, AR
Paragould, AR
Searcy, AR
Alhambra, CA
Arleta, CA
Camarillo, CA
Glendale, CA
North Hills, CA
Los Angeles, CA (2 swarms)
Orange, CA
Palomar Mountain, CA
Perris, CA
Poway, CA
Redondo Beach, CA
San Clemente, CA
San Diego, CA (2 swarms)
Santa Barbara, CA (3 swarms)
Simi Valley, CA
Topanga, CA
Ventura, CA (2 swarms)
Woodland Hills, CA
Brighton, CO
Colorado Springs, CO
Denver, CO
Jacksonville, FL
Melbourne Beach, FL
Parrish, FL
Athens, IL (2 swarms)
Belleville, IL (2 swarms)
Bourbonnais, IL
Chapin, IL
Chicago, IL ( 5 swarms)
Evanston, IL (4  swarms)
Fairbury, IL
Fox Lake, IL
Pekin, IL
Princeton, IL
Wadsworth, IL
Warrensburg, IL
Argos, IN
Beverly Shores, IN
Columbus, IN
Martinsville, IN
Roanoke, IN
Veedersburg, IN
Barksdale, LA
Leesville, LA
Springfield, LA
Chester, MA (2 swarms)
Wenham, MA
Grosse Pointe, MI (2 swarms)
Port Sanilac, MI
Comfrey, MN
Duluth, MN
Long Beach, MS
Picayune, MS
Poplar Bluff, MO
Winfield, MO
Louisville, NE
Las Vegas, NV
Bayville, NJ
Brigantine, NJ (3 swarms)
Long Valley, NJ
Ocean City, NJ
Wildwood Crest, NJ
Caswell Beach, NC
Holden Beach, NC (3 swarms)
Murphy, NC
North Topsail Beach, NC (2 swarms)
Oak Island, NC
Washington, NC
Wilson, NC
Fargo, ND
Minot, ND
Marblehead, OH
Oklahoma City, OK
Charleston, SC
Hilton Head Island, SC
Little River, SC
Mount Pleasant, SC
Collierville, TN
Germantown, TN
Piperton, TN
Soddy-Daisy, TN (2 swarms)
Euless, TX
Frost, TX
Laredo, TX
Robstown TX
San Antonio, TX (2 swarms)
Bountiful, UT
Logan, UT
Salt Lake City, UT
Sandy, UT
Richland, WA
Greenfield, WI
Milwaukee, WI
Sheboygan, WI

Canada:

Calgary, AB
Falcon Lake, MB
Kingston, ON
Balgonie, SK

Here are the US maps for last four weeks:

7.5.15 to 7.11.15

7.5.15 to 7.11.15

7.12.15 to 7.18.15

7.12.15 to 7.18.15

7.19.15 to 7.25.15

7.19.15 to 7.25.15

7.26.15 to 8.1.15

7.26.15 to 8.1.15

Click the maps to enlarge!

July started off a little slow, with a few swarms reported in the central part of the country along with a cluster in North Carolina.  For whatever reason, there were several swarms reported in drought-ridden  southern California, an area that normally sees very little swarming activity.  Perhaps these are dragonflies about to move to a better area?  The week of July 12th saw a little more activity in the Midwest, with swarms occurring along the Great Lakes, the Illinois River, and the Mississippi River with a smattering of other swarms across the country.  The week of July 19th saw increased activity along the Illinois and Mississippi, but still little along the western coast of Lake Michigan.  A flurry of activity in that area suggests that the migration season is about to begin, and that flurry started last week, the week of July 26.  That coupled with the sightings along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana suggest that the 2015 Midwest migration may have already begun!  It’s a few weeks earlier than normal, so it will be interesting to see if the dragonflies continue southward over the next few weeks or stay in place for a little while before they start moving at their regular time in mid-August.  The coastal migrations have apparently not yet begun, though I suspect they may start in the next few weeks.

Peak swarm season has begun!  If you see swarms, I’d love to hear from you.  Click on the link below to add your story!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Taking Flight (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

Last week was National Moth Week, so I have once again been taking countless photos of moths both at my annual moth night at work and in my own backyard.  Many of my photos turn out well enough to help me get an ID for the things I see, but every now and again I get one like this:

Photo of a moth flying away from the camera

Almost…

SOOOOO frustrating!

(I’ve been away at a conference and busy as heck at work recently, but I should get back to my normal schedule here for a while.  See you Friday!)

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Lifer (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

Many people keep life lists of the species they’ve encountered.  Getting to add a new species to that list, whether the species is uncommon or not, is always a thrill.  This painted skimmer was a lifer for me:

Painted skimmer, Libellula semifasciata

Painted skimmer, Libellula semifasciata

I was headed to the back gate as I was closing up at the field station and slammed on the brakes when I saw a flutter of orange over the prairie.  We’ve had a lot of similarly colored Halloween pennants around recently, but this was much too big and flew differently.  Was absolutely thrilled to discover that the dragonfly I caught out of the corner of my eye was a painted skimmer, a new species for me!  I rushed back to see if it was already on the species list for the site and was mildly disappointed that I was not the first to see one on the grounds, but checking that species off in my field guide more than made up for it.  :)

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth