Swarm Sunday: 9/22/2013 – 9/28/2013

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Well, it was another slow week for dragonfly swarms last week!  Swarms were reported from these locations:

USA:

Augustine, FL
Cape San Blas, FL
Panama City Beach, FL
St. Albans, NY
Soddy Daisy, TN
Comfort, TX
Port Aransas, TX (2 reports)
San Leon, TX

And here’s the map:

9.22.13 - 9.28.13

Red pins are static swarms, blue pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge!

As you can see, the bulk of the activity (what little there was) occurred in the southern parts of the US, with only a few reports from anything more than a few miles from a southern coast.  Considering most of the swarms reported this week were migratory, and most of them occurred in the southern US, I am now mostly convinced that the migration is almost over and we will see very little additional swarm activity until next summer.  I’ll likely get a few more reports trickling in over the next couple of weeks, but it looks like things are slowing down for the winter.

Still, if you see a swarm, report it!  There are still some dragonflies out and about and you never know where there might be a swarm!

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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
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Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: The Ones That Get Away

As an insect photography enthusiast, this sort of thing really drives me nuts:

Scoliid flight

Scoliid flight

You look at the photo and realize that you ALMOST got a great shot, but there’s something glaringly wrong with it.  In this case, I’d focused on the wasp when it was sitting on the flower and it decided to fly away between the time I focused and clicked the shutter release.  As a result, the wasp is out of focus!  So annoying!  If I’d just been a few millimeters closer to the wasp, it would have been awesome.   Alas, it’s out of focus and it’s the only shot I got.  Sigh…  What can you do?  Sometimes that’s just the way things turn out, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

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

Swarm Sunday (Part 2): 9/8/2013 – 9/14/2013

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

As promised, here is the overdue data for the week of 9/8/2013, the biggest week of the year so far – and likely the biggest week of the 2013 season.  Swarms occurred in the following locations:

USA:  
Burlington CO
Branford CT
Ocoee FL
Panama City Fl
The Villages FL
Davenport IA
Maquoketa IA
Chiacgo Ridge IL
Coal city IL
Downers Grove IL
Elk Grove Village IL
Evanston IL
Frankfort IL
Oak Lawn IL
Park Ridge IL
Stockton IL
Sycamore IL
Virginia IL
Western Springs IL
Chicago IL (6 reports)
Columbia City IN
Peru IN
Wayne IN
Largo IN (2 reports)
Shreveport LA
Marshfield MA
Vineyard Haven MA
Clayton MI
Horton MI
Hudson MI
Reading MI
St Quincy MI
Manchester MO
Grand Island NE
Lincoln NE
Omaha NE (2 reports)
Papillion NE
Waverly NE
Oswego NY
Tomkins Cove NY
Akron OH
Austintown OH (2 reports)
Avon Lake OH
Bellevue OH
Canfield OH
Clintonville OH
Columbus OH (2 reports)
Danville OH
Edon OH
Fairview Park OH
Farmersville OH
Farmington OH
Fostoria OH
Fremont OH
Germantown OH (2 reports)
Haviland OH
Homer OH
Lakewood OH
Loudonville OH
Louisville OH (4 reports)
Lower Salem OH
Marion OH
Massillon OH
Mentor on the Lake OH
Mesopotamia OH (2 reports)
Middletown OH (2 reports)
Milan OH
Mount Vernon OH
Newark OH
Newton Falls OH
North Jackson OH
Norton OH
Payne OH
Petersburg OH
Pickerington OH
Randolph OH
Scio OH
Springfield OH
St. Paris OH
Tallmadge OH
Toledo OH (5 reports)
Warren OH (2 reports)
Wellington OH
Willard OH
Youngstown OH
Erie PA
Greencastle PA
Huntingdon PA (2 reports)
Lewistown PA
McVeytown PA
Mt. Union PA
Pittsburgh PA (4 reports)
West Middlesex PA
Sewanee TN
Houston TX
Spearman TX
Roanoke VA
   
CANADA:  
Toronto ON
   
INDIA  
Bangalore  

And here’s the map:

9.8.13 - 9.14.13

Red pins are static swarms, blue pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge!

Nearly all the swarms reported during the week of September 8 were reported from just three days, Sept 10-12, with most taking place on Sept 11.  Sept 11 was a really big swarm day!  However, nearly all swarms reported during the week were also static feeding swarms, NOT migratory swarms as one would expect at this time of year.  There were a lot of dragonflies out and about, but few people reported them on the move. 

You’ll notice that the majority of swarms occurred in the upper Midwest, specifically in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Could this potentially mark the start of a large migration still to come?  It’s possible, and time will tell whether the people who reported these swarms were seeing dragonflies on evening stopovers during their migrations or there were simply a lot of dragonflies active those few nights.  I suspect the latter was true, that we might still see some southward movement of the dragonflies this year, but we’ll have to wait and see what the next few weeks bring.  It’s starting to cool down in many places in the country, so the end of the season is almost upon us.

Don’t forget to report any late-season swarms you see!  The season might be over, as it usually is at this time of year, but there’s a chance we’ll see one more burst of activity.  With your help, we can figure out which of these scenarios is more likely, so keep sending in your reports!

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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

Swarm Sunday (Part 1): 9/15/2013 – 9/21/2013

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Wow, last week was a bear!  Between the conference last weekend, prepping for BugFest yesterday, and back to back responsibilities at work all week, I had next to no free time.  That meant I had zero time to blog, which is unfortunate considering the week of September 8th was the biggest week of swarms to date! You’re going to have to wait until tomorrow to see the data for that big week, however, as it’s taking forever to process the information and get it uploaded. I’m admitting to myself that I’m not going to finish tonight! Still, I want to bring you SOMETHING this week, so here are the swarms that occurred over the past seven days:

USA:

Chico, CA
Navarre, FL
Vicksburg, MS
Greenlawn, NY
Swannanoa, NC
Culloden, WV

And here’s the map:

9.15.13-9.21-13

Red pins are static swarms, blue pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge!

Compared to the last two weeks, this was a slowwwww week!  Only 6 swarms reported nationwide, which is practically nothing. The swarms also appeared to be rather randomly distributed, with no obvious pattern to their locations.  

After the last two weeks, this week’s showing seems disappointing, but it is getting to be the right time of year for the end of the dragonfly season.  I don’t know about the rest of the country, but it’s cooled down a lot in my part of the North Carolina over the last few days and the dragonflies have all but disappeared with the arrival of the fall-like weather. I suspect similar things are happening in many other locations as well.

What an odd year!  The dragonfly season was very slow to begin, then everything swarm-related happened in one little flurry of activity over about 2 1/2 weeks.  Now it looks like we’re already at the end of the season.  Very strange!  But that’s part of what makes science interesting, the unpredictability of it all and new discoveries around every turn.

If you see a swarm, I hope you’ll report it!  We’re heading into the fall and the activity will likely remain low over the next few weeks before it peters out completely, but I’d love to see a few more late-season swarms reported.  Let me know if you see one!

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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!

_______________

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Love is in the Air

Well, I’ve had pretty much zero time for blogging since the last post on Friday and won’t have time to blog again until Sunday, so this is going to be a light week. You’ll get a double dose of Swarm Sunday this week, but until then I can at least throw a photo up for Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday.  This week, I present a pair of soldier beetles in love:

Soldier beetle lovin

Soldier beetle lovin’

Found these little lovebirds (and hundreds of their closest relatives) on a flower about three weeks ago at the Duke Gardens in Durham, NC.  The gardens were so wonderful that I actually took more photos of flowers than I did bugs.  That’s a rare thing for me!  But now I feel like I need to get in all the insect photos I can.  It’s cooled down a lot over the last few days, so it’s only a matter of time before winter sets in.

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

Friday 5: What I Did Today

Greetings from Asheville, NC!  I’m here attending an environmental education conference, enjoying the cool weather and the mountains after over a year with nary a mountain in sight.  I miss my mountains, so I’m loving it here!  I also got to do and see all sorts of buggy things today, so I thought I’d share some the highlights with you all.   The photos in this post are “meh” as I took a lot of them with my phone in bad light, but here are some cool things I felt the need to document today:

The Fly Quilt

Fly quilt

Fly quilt!

The conference I’m attending is being held at the NC Arboretum.  It is a spectacular place, absolutely stunning, and I’m thrilled to have been able to come here.  In their education center they have several nature quilts displayed on the walls.  The one above was my favorite, for obvious reasons.  I loved the fly quilt!  Makes me want to go home and make one of my own, though I can tell you based on my last quilt making experience that mine wouldn’t look nearly as good.

Meeting a National Geographic Photographer

Kevin FitzPatrick

Kevin FitzPatrick

I attended a full day, pre-conference workshop on citizen science today and it was a lot of fun!  The workshop was about using bioblitzes (biological surveys, often quite thorough, of specific places over short periods of time) as a means of getting people involved in science and was led National Geographic photographer, Kevin FitzPatrick.  Apart from the fact I thought it was odd to see a photographer leading a citizen science workshop, I really enjoyed talking to him. In addition to photographing the National Geographic BioBlitzes (hence his interest in citizen science), he is also a contributor to Meet Your Neighbors.  If you don’t know what Meet Your Neighbors is, click on the link and take a look at a few of the images in the gallery.  Go on, I’ll wait…   What did you think?  Me, I love the look of the photos on Meet Your Neighbors, and I have always wanted to see how the photographers involved take their photos because they’re taking those shots in the field!  Today, I got to see exactly how to do them.  In the image above, Kevin was photographing a rat snake on his setup before we broke for lunch.  After lunch, we took his funky light table into the field while we looked for reptiles and amphibians under the Arboretum’s cover boards and sloshed around in Bent Creek looking for insects.  Guess which part of that activity I especially loved?  If you guessed…

Sloshing Around in Bent Creek

Aquatic insects from Bent Creek

Aquatic insects from Bent Creek

… you were right!  I haven’t gotten a chance to do much exploring of the aquatic insect fauna of the state so far, and definitely not in the mountains.  The creek wasn’t very deep (I could ALMOST walk across in my high top waterproof hiking boots without overtopping them), but we found some aquatic invertebrates that I, as a former Arizonan, thought were pretty amazing.  We found lots of stoneflies, snails, salamanders (not inverts, but super cool!), crayfish, mayflies, caddisflies, true bugs, dragonflies, and two types of beetles, including water pennies.  A pretty good haul, but my very favorite was…

This!

Giant stonefly, genus Pteronarcys

Giant stonefly nymph, genus Pteronarcys

Giant stonefly, genus Pteronarcys!  I’ve only ever seen a specimen in a vial after it had lain dead for several years, so seeing one alive and in the wild was pretty awesome.  While I would have been happy with the things we found even without the giant stonefly nymph, it  made my day!  Wow, that thing was amazing.  I’ve been itching to go see what else I can find in the stream since. Might need to go back down before I leave on Sunday…

BIG Argiope!

Black and yellow argiope, Argiope aurantia

Black and yellow argiope, Argiope aurantia

After competing in the conference Wild-a-Thon (a mini-bioblitz of sorts) with another woman at the conference, I wandered the grounds with a couple of people from my workshop to kill some time before dinner.  We were admiring the ornamental grasses in one section of the garden when I saw the spider above. That thing was HUGE!  To get my camera to focus, I had to slide my hand behind the spider, which helped convince me that nearly all traces of my childhood fear of spiders is now gone.  I’ve been reminded of that fear of spiders several times recently, so I am feeling pretty good about all but putting my hand on this enormous orb weaver to get a shot of it.  The worst part: the background is SO busy, it’s still not a very good shot.  Regardless, a gorgeous animal and I’m glad I saw it!

Tomorrow I’m headed to several presentations about citizen science and a swanky dinner at a local museum before my presentation on Sunday.  I’m hoping the rest of the conference is as good as today!

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Hi!

I lead dragonfly walks where I work, teaching people about dragonfly biology, how to do some basic identifications, and how they can get involved in dragonfly research through citizen science. Last weekend, I led the last walk of 2013.  I had about a dozen people in the group and I think they enjoyed the dragonfly catching part of the experience best.  I didn’t have a chance to actually try to catch anything myself, however, so I went back out with a net after everyone left just because it looked fun.  I caught this beauty on the first swing:

Green darner on my knee

Green darner on my knee

A green darner!  They might be common as dirt, but I adore them.  Look how beautiful that little guy is!  I snapped a few photos of the markings on the head, thorax, and abdomen while I had him in hand, then set him on my knee and released him.  Much to my very great pleasure, he sat there for TWO WHOLE MINUTES while I snapped several photos.  Man, I loved that dragonfly!  He totally made my day.

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