Swarm Sunday – I’m Calling It

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The weather’s been doing strange things recently and I’ve only seen two total dragonflies in the past several weeks, so I’m declaring the dragonfly swarm season officially over.  This means that it’s time to start wrapping up by posting some year-end reports this season’s data.  Look for those to start in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, it occurs to me that I received two reports a couple of weeks ago, right as Hurricane Sandy was barreling toward the east coast, that I forgot to post.  They were reported in these locations:

USA:

Miami Beach, FL
Deer Park, TX

And with that, the American dragonfly swarm season ended!

On a somewhat related front, the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) has changed their data submission website a bit.  They are now accepting both dragonfly pond watch data AND migratory dragonfly sightings.  If you’ve submitted migratory sightings to me, no need to submit again – I’ll be sharing all of my migration data with the MDP team anyway.  However, if you haven’t gotten involved in the Dragonfly Pond Watch, however, I encourage you to do so!  All you need to do is make observations of a few easily recognizable species at a nearby pond once a month.  If you’re already out walking your dog or photographing things, why not collect a little data while you’re at it?  The MDP is a really great group of dragonfly researchers and they would love to have your data!

Happy Sunday everyone, and look for the first year-end report in a few weeks!

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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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Swarm Sunday – 9/23/2012 – 9/29/2012

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The swarming activity picked up a little this week, though perhaps not quite as much as I’d hoped.  Swarms occurred in the following locations:

USA:

Mystic, CT
Apopka, FL
Cape San Blas, FL
Destin, FL
Gulf Breeze, FL
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
McLeansboro, IL
Hoboken, NJ
Lawrenceville, NJ
North Arlington, NJ
Hastings-On-Hudson, NY
Lumberton, NC
Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Raleigh, NC (3 reports)
Cedar Park, TX
Kyle, TX
Kenosha, WI

There’s a strange distribution of swarms this week.  About half of them are in the northeast (New York and New Jersey) and the other half are in the southeast (North Carolina and Florida).  It’s a little odd that there’s nothing in between, but at this point I’m giving up trying to explain what’s going on until the season’s completely over.  Maybe I’ll have a better idea of why the end of the season is so strange if I can look at the whole season.  Or maybe not!  Guess we’ll have to see.

While there seems to be little activity happening in most of the rest of the country, the field station where I work, Prairie Ridge, has been quite the hotbed of dragonfly activity!  Between my coworkers and me, we’ve seen 7 swarms on the grounds over the past two weeks.  The last few days have been especially exciting.  Right around 4:30 or 5pm everyday, we’ve been seeing groups of dragonflies flying over the prairie.  They’re green darners mostly, though tonight there were some black saddlebags mixed in too.  The dragonflies fly from about 4 feet to 20 feet in the air, swooping back and forth over the grass.  I get a thrill from each and every swarm I see, but these swarms have been especially thrilling: immediately above the area where the dragonflies have been flying are chimney swifts, 100 or more.  Many people have told me about swallows flying above the dragonfly swarms they’ve seen – it happens often.  However, chimney swifts are not commonly reported.  It is really something to look out toward the sun in the distance and see big swarms of both dragonflies and chimney swifts!  I hope they’re eating all the mosquitoes that keep biting me.  :)

Please keep reporting swarms if you see them.  The season normally ends in a couple of weeks, so it will be interesting to see how this very strange season plays out!

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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!

Swarm Sunday (on Monday) – 9/16/2012 – 9/22/2012

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Another very slow week!  Swarms occurred in the following locations:

USA:

Lilburn, GA
Boody, IL
Quincy, MA
Clarksboro, NJ
Raleigh, NC
Ovilla, TX

Six swarms last week.  Six!  Note to dragonflies: do you call that a migration?  Huh?  Pathetic…

This is getting weird.  Allow me to place this week’s swarm data into perspective.  During the same 7 day period last year, I got 147 reports.  The year before I got a third of that, but it was a much slower year and Hurricane Irene was’t wreaking havoc on the behavior or the American dragonfly population.  I got many reports each week into mid-October.  This year, I got 6 reports and it’s only September.  Based on my last two years of data collection, I would expect many, many more reports than this, maybe 10 times what I got last week.  Instead, I got 6.  This should be the peak migratory season, and hardly anyone is seeing anything out there!

I had been debating publishing my findings for this project after only three years of data collection, ]i.e. at the end of this season, rather than waiting the full five I had been planning for.  I thought I had this behavior under control and knew what to expect.  However, this year’s migration is reminding me of something that’s important to consider when you’re dealing with biological phenomena, particularly those that are dependent on weather: no matter how well you think you understand a system, nature has a way of throwing wrenches into your data collection.  She’s throwing a big wrench in the works this year!

I’m still hoping there will be one more surge in activity, a clear indication of the migration in the eastern US, before mid-October when the season usually ends.  It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks!

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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

Swarm Sunday – 9/9/2012 – 9/15/2012

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

It was a shockingly slow dragonfly swarm week this week!  Swarms occurred in the following locations:

USA:

Happy Camp, CA
Omo Ranch, CA
Waterford, CT
Gainesville, FL
Redington Beach, FL
Edwardsville, IL
Hume, IL
Coralcille, IA
Dubuque, IA
Iowa City, IA
Mashpee, MA
International Falls, MN
Reno, NV
Flanders, NJ
East Hampton, NY
Holden Beach, NC
Hebo, OR
Montgomery, PA
Ocean Park, WA
Sun Prairie, WI (2 reports)

Canada:

Mississauga, ON

How strange that there have been so few swarms this week!  I’ve heard reports from several people along the east coast of weather that changed from very warm to cool literally overnight, just like what happened where I live.  Last Saturday we had a huge storm and Sunday was a good 20 degrees cooler.  Perhaps the cold front is impacting the dragonfly flight?  I really have no idea what’s going on at this point.  It’s very odd to have so few swarms in the middle of the normal peak season.

About half of the swarms reported this week were migratory swarms, however.  The migration seems to be ongoing in the Midwest and along the west coast as most of the swarms reported from both regions were migratory.  But in the east…  Still nothing!  There were two reports in the same area of Florida of a massive migratory swarm, but where did it come from?  No one reported any movement in the east all week and then a giant swarm appeared out of nowhere in Florida.  Curiouser and curiouser!  Normally I get 20 reports of a single big swarm moving down the coast in 4 or 5 different states, but no one saw this one before it hit Florida.  Did it originate in Florida?  Or did all those people simply miss this one?

Honestly, though, getting unexpected results can be more exciting than confirming what you already know.  Now I’ve got this big mystery, an odd thing that I can’t explain.  Perhaps this coming week will provide some answers, so keep those reports coming!

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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!

_______________

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

Swarm Sunday – 9/2/2012 – 9/8/2012

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I have to admit: this week’s swarming activity was a little underwhelming.  After last week’s exciting flurry of migratory swarms…  Nothing!  I had expected there to be many more migratory swarm reports this week.  However, many static swarms occurred over the past week:

USA:

Siloam Springs, AR
Avon, CT
Old Greenwich, CT
Jacksonville, FL
Panama City Beach, FL
Altamont, IL
Chicago, IL (2 reports)
Elizabeth, IL
Lynn Center, IL
Northbrook, IL
West Chicago, IL
Woodstock, IL (2 reports)
Martinsville, IN
Valparaiso, IN
Castana, IA
Mapleton, IA
Sioux City, IA
Bel Aire, KS
Kechi, KS
South Hutchinson, KS
Valley Center, KS
Mayville, MI
Duluth, MN
Kirksville, MO
La Plata, MO
Mansfield, MO
Moberly, MO
Pacific, MO
Cherry Hill, NJ
Flanders, NJ
Middlesex, NJ
Somerset, NJ
Campbell Hall, NY
Goshen, NY
Middletown, NY
Rochester, NY
Ticonderoga, NY
Washingtonville, NY
Marion, OH
Mt. Blanchard, OH
Astoria, OR
Elkins Park, PA
Huntersville, PA
Astoria, SD
Brookings, SD
Emery, SD (2 reports)
Madison, SD
Parkston, SD
Sioux Falls, SD
Toronto, SD
Farmers Branch, TX
Rockfish, VA
Belleville, WI
Beloit, WI
Menomonee Falls, WI
Potosi, WI
Trempealeau, WI

Canada:

Tlell, BC
Burlington, ON
Colchester, ON

Hardly any of these swarms are migratory swarms, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the migration isn’t happening anyway.  The most interesting thing that happened this week was the surge in activity in eastern South Dakota.  I rarely get reports in South Dakota at all, only 3 total before this year.  Then this past week I got 8 in one night.  What’s interesting about this is that all but one of these reports are along a very distinct line.  It really looks like the sort of line you’d expect during a migratory movement.   The next day, I got a few reports in Iowa.  Then a few more in Kansas three days later.  Then one in Texas.  If you map them out, you see an interesting pattern in the data:

You can see another set of lines following Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River that followed the same sort of southward pattern during the week – Wisconsin and Chicago area reports first, then the Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas reports later in the week.  Even if I didn’t get many migratory swarm reports this week, it still appears that the midwestern dragonflies are on the move.  The migration through this part of the country may be a little more subtle than the east coast migration, but that’s not entirely surprising.  The eastern migration is much more obvious as the dragonflies all take a similar path directly down the coastline.  They follow a very narrow strip of land directly along the water.  In the midwest they’re more spread out, and travel through a much more rural area too.  There just aren’t as many people there to observe the migration.  It could also be that the midwestern dragonflies fly higher than the eastern dragonflies.  The eastern dragonflies tend to stay fairly low to the ground where the midwestern dragonflies are often reported much higher up.

Most of the remaining activity in the US is where it’s been most of the summer: New York and New Jersey.

This coming week I expect to see some migratory activity on both coasts.  The weather along the Oregon coast is just about right for the migration of the variegated meadowhawk, so be on the lookout for hoards of these little red dragonflies if you happen to live in the pacific northwest:

Sympetrum corruptum

Sympetrum corruptum

Things are starting to cool down in the east too, so I hope I’ll start seeing dragonflies headed my way soon!

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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!

_______________

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

Swarm Sunday – 8/26/2012 – 9/1/2012

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

The migration has begun!  But first, swarms occurred in the following areas over the past week:

USA:

Compton, CA
Lakewood, CA
Palmdale, CA
Fort Collins, CO
La Junta, CO
Lynn Haven, FL
Milton, FL
North Port, FL
Panama City Beach, FL
Panhandle Seaside, FL
St. Petersburg, FL
Siesta Key, FL
Mountain Home, ID
Berwyn, IL
Chicago, IL (11 reports)
Elk Grove Village, IL
Lawrence, IL
McConnell, IL
Orangeville, IL
Village of Lakewood, IL
Liberty Township, IN
Le Mars, IA
Peosta, IA
Weat Branch, IA
Kennebunkport, ME
Kittery Point, ME
York, ME
Dighton, MA
Holyoke, MA
Marblehead, MA
Troy, MI
Duluth, MN
Saint Paul, MN
Colon, MS
Cedarville, OH
Douglas, OK
Orangeville, PA
Charlestown, RI
Athens, TX
Crowley, TX
Galveston, TX
Gelveston Island, TX
Plano, TX
Portland, TX
Seattle, WA
Belleville, WI
Beloit, WI
Darlington, WI
Footville, WI
Granton, WI
Janesville, WI (3 reports)
New Auburn, WI
Sharon, WI (2 reports)
Spring Valley, WI
West Bend, WI
Whitewater, WI

England:

Isle of Sheppey, Kent

There was a sharp increase in the number of migratory swarms reported this week, which suggests that the migration is just starting up.  However, most of the reports were from the Great Lakes area, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, so it looks like the northeastern US might have to wait a little longer for their migration to begin.  The Midwestern migrants will travel down either the Illinois River or the Wabash and Ohio Rivers to the Mississippi, and then down the big river from there.  Considering Hurricane Isaac recently made landfall along their route, it will be interesting to see what happens when the migrants reach the New Orleans area and continue south toward the Gulf coast.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they stopped there to feed for several days before moving on.

There is also a separate migration happening in Texas.  Nearly every report from Texas this week described a migratory swarm, so there’s something interesting happening.  Most reporters mentioned high winds and rain that resulted from Isaac, so the migratory swarms from Texas could be similar to the migrating dragonflies that appeared in Florida in advance of the hurricane.   I wonder if these dragonflies will eventually fly south or disperse within Texas…

Many of the static swarms reported this week were in the west.  It’s unusual to have reports in Colorado, California, Idaho, and Washington all in one week, but I think it’s exciting.  Western swarms are far less common than eastern swarms, so it’s always nice to see activity west of the Rockies.

I hope that I will be able to post a video of a migratory swarm in North Carolina in the next couple of weeks!  The migration down the coast should be starting soon, and I fully intend to dash out to the coast to see it for the first time this year if at all possible.  I can’t wait!

Until next week, keep sending in those swarm reports!  We’re coming up on the most active part of the year, and right on time in spite of the early start of the swarming season this summer.

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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!

_______________

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

Swarm Sunday (2 Days Late) – 8/19/2012 – 8/25/2012

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Some interesting things happened this week.  But first, let’s review the list of swarm locations.  Swarms occurred in the following areas over the past week:

USA:

Gazelle, CA
Boulder, CO
Fort Collins, CO
Jupiter, FL
Marco Island, FL
Panama City Beach, FL (2 swarms)
Siesta Key, FL
Stuart, FL
Suntree, FL
Venice, FL
Venus, FL (3 swarms)
Osceola, IN
Blairsburg, IA
Burlington, IA
Kelley, IA
Cape Elizabeth, ME
Eddington, ME
Port Tobacco, MD
Allegan, MI
Springfield, MO
Concord, NH
Manchester, NH
Rochester, NH
Peapack, NJ
Seaside Heights, NJ
Garnerville, NY
Narrowsburg, NY
Phoenix, OR
Reading, PA
Garretson, SD
New Braunfels, TX
West Jordan, UT

Canada:

Toronto, ON

Yet another week of mediocre levels of activity, but I did see a few interesting things happen.  Most importantly, there has been very little activity in Florida so far this year, but there was a lovely little surge this past week.  I suspect it was because Hurricane Isaac was approaching.  I can’t say for certain that the hurricane was the cause, but there is some good evidence that it was playing a role in the increase in activity.  I was in Florida myself as Isaac approached, so I was able to make firsthand observations.  I didn’t see swarms until the evening it got windy, cloudy, and the temperature dropped.  Before you started to feel the effects of the storm, you didn’t see any swarms.  After the first arms of the storm reached Archbold, suddenly there was swarming.  I also received three reports of migratory swarms in which thousands of dragonflies were flying the wrong way for this time of year, coming north into Florida from over the water.  The migration is upon us, so it is very strange to see swarms moving north when you expect to see them moving south.  But, when you consider the gigantic swarm headed north from the same direction as the dragonflies, it suggests the dragonflies were responding to the hurricane’s approach.

Considering the similar patterns in swarming that were observed last year when Hurricane Irene hit the east coast, I’m going to tentatively suggest that hurricanes are major forces driving swarming behavior.  I’ll have to see what happens after a few more hurricanes hit land in the US to say this with any sort of certainty, but the evidence suggests that this might be happening.

Also, I already mentioned this in my Friday 5 post from last week, but I got to add a new species to my list of confirmed swarming species last week.  The more of these I add and the more countries where swarms are observed, the more it suggests that this is a rather universal dragonfly behavior and not simply a behavior of the known migratory species.  (Hyacinth gliders could be migratory though – they’re very widespread.)  They formed strange swarms too.  They stayed in the same dense group as other species, but they flew differently within that group.  Rather than doing the little rectangular or figure 8 flight patterns most commonly reported in other species, these were much more jerky in their flight, a lot less regular.  They almost flew in little zigzags.  They did, however, consistently do one thing over and over: they flew slowly straight into the wind, hovering several times as they advanced, then abruptly turned 180 degrees and flew 20 or 30 feet very quickly the opposite direction.  Then they would turn around and do it all again, repeating this same motion for hours at a time.  I haven’t seen anything like it in another species.  It might be something unique to this species, though it might just be something no one has reported yet.

I could go on and on, but in the interest in getting this up on the blog sometime today, I’m going to leave you with a video of the hyacinth gliders swarming at Archbold during Bug Shot.  I watched these swarms for a couple of hours altogether and they were truly magical!

Until next week!

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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!

_______________

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