Swarm Sunday – 2011 Year-End Report, Part 1

dragonfly swarm banner

It’s time to wrap up this year’s Dragonfly Swarm Project data collection and give you all the year-end report!  I’ll follow the same format as last year, so today I’ll discuss the project and the data itself – who participated, how many people participated, basic information about where swarms were seen, etc.   Next week I’ll move on to a complete discussion of the distribution of this year’s swarms and I’ll finish the official report with a post of the conclusions that are emerging from the data that I’ve collected so far.  I might also add in a fourth post this year that includes some of the interesting tidbits of information that people share with me in the “Other Observations” section of my online form.  It’s the part of the form where people tell me anything they wish to share about their swarms and I find these bits of information absolutely fascinating.  (If you missed it, I did a Friday 5 during the summer that included my 5 favorite swarm stories.)

But first, I feel that I should thank everyone who has participated in my project!  You all have made the Dragonfly Swarm Project a much bigger success than I had ever expected and I am learning some very interesting things about dragonfly swarming behavior thanks to your help.  The project is starting to get the attention of some big names in science communication and more and more people are participating.  Your data have also allowed me to become a part of the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership, a scientific collaboration of several dragonfly researchers to study migratory swarms.  I’ll be working with some of my scientific heroes as a part of the Partnership, and it’s all thanks to you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Let’s dive into the data!

dragonfly graphic

Changes to the Project This Year

Last year I collected data via comments on blog posts.  This year, I developed an online form that deposited the data directly into a database.  Due to the form’s length and detail, I had expected participation to decrease.  According to my blog statistics, however, the % of page views that resulted in submitted reports was nearly identical to last year.

dragonfly graphic


Last year, I received just under 650 reports by the year’s end.  This year, I have received 1129 so far, and reports are still trickling in.  Participation clearly went up!

Interestingly, participation by women once again far outweighed participation by men such that about 8.5 of 10 reports were contributed by women.  I think this is fabulous considering women are usually outnumbered by men in the sciences.  Apparently women rule citizen science!

dragonfly graphicDistribution of Swarms

You’ll get more detailed information about this next week when I post the year’s maps, but here are the basic stats:

  • Swarms were reported in 13 countries since my report last fall: USA, Canada, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, France, Spain, Portugal, Belize, Honduras, and Mexico.  Reports from the USA outnumbered reports from other countries, with Canada and Australia coming in a distant second and third.
  • Swarms in the US and Canada were most commonly reported in the east this year.  Last year, reports were more common in the Midwest.
  • Slightly more swarms were reported from rural areas than urban areas.
  • There were 99 migratory swarms reported.  The US states with the most migratory swarm reports were South Carolina (25), Rhode Island (9), Oregon (9), North Carolina (9), and New Jersey (7).
  • There were 1030 static swarms reported, with the most in the following states: Pennsylvania (150), Ohio (141), Florida (66), Virginia (59), and West Virginia (50).
  • The states with the fewest static swarms reported were Idaho, South Dakota, and Washington with 1 report each and Louisiana, Montana, and Wyoming with 2 reports each.
  • There were swarm reports submitted from all 48 continental US states and 5 of the southern Canadian provinces.

dragonfly graphicThe Swarms

Most swarms reported were static swarms. Also, most of the migratory swarms occurred during the regular migratory season this year, which was a bit different from last year where several migratory swarms were reported a month or two before the southward migration began.  Like last year, the most commonly reported dragonflies were overwhelmingly the green darner (Anax junius), followed by the wandering glider (Pantala flavescens), the black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata), the Carolina saddlebags (Tramea carolina), and the blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) in the east, and the variegated skimmer (Sympetrum corruptum) in the west.  (See the common migratory species and less common migratory species posts for more information about the swarming species.)  A few other species were reported to a much lesser extent.  Also, every type of static swarm that has currently been identified was reported by several witnesses in several regions.

dragonfly graphicDragonfly Swarms Online

Reports of swarms popped up on various blogs and other sources across the country.  Rather than including them all here at the end of the year, specific reports of interest were listed each week in the Swarm Sunday posts.  Also, I gathered every video of dragonfly swarms I could find on YouTube into a playlist.  The playlist currently includes 144 videos and is available here.

dragonfly graphicProject Publicity

The Dragonfly Swarm Project got some great publicity this year!  It was featured on several websites, including Talking Science (a part of the Science Friday Initiative), Science For Citizens, and Scientific American, and was included as a link from one of the Smithsonian pages!  I also created a brochure that was distributed at two major events at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and at a few of my own.  I think all the publicity may have been part of the reason I saw the increase in participation this year, so I intend to keep publicizing the project as much as possible in the future.

That’s a quick and dirty rundown of the project stats for the year.  Check back next week for the maps!


Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © TheDragonflyWoman.com


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!


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 © TheDragonflyWoman.com


6 thoughts on “Swarm Sunday – 2011 Year-End Report, Part 1

  1. What a fascinating project, keep it up. I recently did a post on Citizen Science on my blog and I labelled it “I’m obsessed” and it truly can, get very addictive. I’m all for learning from science and what can be better than receiving this information from everyday people.

    • Agreed! I enjoy getting people involved in my work and I hope they’re having fun while they’re doing it. I have started to notice my influence on how people describe swarms online, so at the very least I know I’m providing useful information to people who participate in the project. Hopefully they’re learning new and interesting things from me at the same time I’m learning new and interesting things from them!

  2. I am confident that there are many unreported swarms in Tahiti, the Bahamas, and the south of France. Please send transportation money, and I’ll spend the summer of 2012 in one of those places, and report to you with regularity.

  3. Hi, My husband recommended your blog to me because he loves it and now I do too. I am a scientist and author, working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. I write a blog about urban wildlife. Please take a look at the link below. If you like it and would like to exchange links, I would be thrilled to be added to your list. Thanks, Julie :)

    • Sure, I’ll add you! Your blog will go under the Nature section of my links.

      I’m thrilled to have someone from a natural history museum as a reader! I am completely in love with natural history museums! I imagine it’s a great place to work too. I’m a little envious!

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