Swarm Sunday – 7/15/2012 – 7/21/2012

Dragonfly Swarm Project logoIn the past few years, this has been about the time of year when I started seeing a jump in the swarming activity around the US and started getting more than 3-5 reports a week.  Clearly, something else is happening this year.  Look how many swarms were reported!

USA:

Apache Junction, AZ
Bentonville, AR
Rogers, AR
Yellville, AR
North Highlands, CA
Estes Park, CO
Glastonbury, CT
Ledyard, CT
West Haven, CT
Winter Springs, FL
Alton, IL
Cedar Lake, IN
Benton, KY
Ft. Mitchell, KY
Catonsville, MD
Severn, MD (2 reports)
Upper Marlboro, MD
Somerset, MA
Plymouth, MN
Fairdealing, MO
Mansfield, MO
Franklin Lakes, NJ
Hillsborough, NJ
Keyport, NJ
Marlton, NJ
Middletown, NJ
New Providence, NJ
Old Bridge, NJ
Toms River, NJ
Johnsburg, NY
Long Island, NY
Manorville, NY
West Haverstraw, NY
Raleigh, NC
Rocky Mount, NC
Cincinnati, OH
Streetsboro, OH
Westerville, OH
Bethlehem, PA
Boothwyn, PA
Dillsburg, PA
Harleysville, PA
Kutztown, PA
Media, PA (2 reports)
Morrisville, PA
Perkasie, PA
Philadelphia, PA
Radnor, PA
West Chester, PA
Jamestown, RI
Nashville, TN
Houston, TX (3 reports)
Katy, TX
Kingwood, TX
New Braunfels, TX
San Antonio, TX (2 reports)
Spring, TX
Saluda, VA
Tappahannock, VA
Topping, VA
Urbanna, VA
Virginia Beach, VA

Canada:

Red Deer, AL
Strasbourg, SK

Wow!  That’s a lot of swarms!  Most of the activity is currently centered over the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania area and Texas this week, though the southeastern US is still seeing a lot of activity.  Considering that this is the third week of long lists of reports like this too, I think it’s safe to say that the swarming season started earlier this year.

I suspect the early flurry of activity is a result of the mild winter last year.  Unusually warm winters were reported throughout many parts of the US and there were strange weather patterns occurring into the spring.  Many areas didn’t get the typical heavy snows or frosts, even in the northern regions of the continent, and then warmed up earlier in the spring.  A lot of aquatic insects depend on water temperature to let them know that spring has arrived and that it is time to complete their transformation into adults, so warm water in an atypical time of year can result in huge emergences of species before their usual time (sometimes with disastrous consequences).  I think the mild winter and early spring warming both contributed to the early swarming activity we’ve seen this summer, though I’ll have to collect data for a few more seasons to be sure.

Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled by all the dragonflies!  I even got to see another swarm last weekend.  It was made up of 6 different species, including one that isn’t typically reported in swarms (the widow skimmer, Libellula luctuosa).  That brings the total number of swarms I’ve personally seen up to 4 now, and I hope I’ll get to see many more!

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

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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 © TheDragonflyWoman.com

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8 thoughts on “Swarm Sunday – 7/15/2012 – 7/21/2012

    • It’s not that this is a particularly rare behavior so much that it’s a rarely observed behavior. Any one person might only see a few swarms in their whole life and they have to be at the right place at the right time to see one. If you live in Florida, it might be more common to see them as you’ll be on the migratory path in the fall and consistently have large numbers of dragonflies in your area. The rarity does depend a bit on where you live.

  1. Hi Christine,
    I am finding your posts on dragonfly swarms quite fascinating, and I noticed that in this post you reported a swarm from Red Deer, Alberta and Strasbourg Saskatchewan. I lived in Alberta for about 35 years and never saw a swarm, and since I moved to Vancouver Island in British Columbia three years ago I have neither seen nor heard of a swarm. As a keen naturalist and nature photographer, and a dragonfly lover I spend most of my time outside, and I know that I would notice something like this. I would assume that swarms in western Canada are a relatively rare occurrence. I would like to know though if you have ever heard of one in British Columbia, and more specifically on Vancouver Island. I can assure you that if I ever see one here I will send you the information. Keep up the good work.

    Terry

    • I HAVE gotten reports from both BC and Vancouver Island! Not very many (only one from the island – right in the very middle too), and far fewer than in the eastern part of Canada, but they do happen there too. They’re not particularly common events to witness and you really have to be at the right place at the right time to see them, but it’s possible that you will see one at some point, even where you’re living now.

  2. Last evening about 1900 I observed a large swarm near my home in Emporia, KS. Hundreds, al least, of insects flying 5′ to 20′ above dry lawns with the air temperature still near 100º F. The low angle evening sun made the view of the activity spectacular. I noticed the same behavior last year about this time for several evenings.

  3. Looking down the list I don’t see Nevada – curious but are there usually any swarms reported from that state?

    • I believe I have gotten fewer than 5 total reports from Nevada. They’re not as common in that part of the country as in the eastern regions and there don’t seem to be as many people out and about at the right time to see themm. They DO happen there, but whether there are people there to see them is an entirely different matter! Keep an eye out for them, especially after rains, and you might see one eventually.

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