Saturday, June 30, 2012

Surprise Package!

I love a good surprise, and that is what I received yesterday. I received a box of odes from Greg Bauman in Negaunee, MI. Greg is the son-in-law of Burt Cebulski of Adrian, MI. Burt is a long-time student of Odonata, and got Greg interested in dragonflies last summer. From what I understand, Greg has become quite the ardent collector, and being in the UP is an added bonus. We just do not have that many people collecting there, and with Greg, I know of four people that reside in the UP and collect for the MOS. So, any new records are certainly welcome.

What really pleased me, though, was the fact that Greg had the specimens properly processed, and ready to be incorporated into the MOS database and collection, complete with MOS numbers. The Cordulegaster obliqua is definitely a new Marquette County record, and is an especially nice addition. Greg also included a list of everything on a spreadsheet. I think Burt should do all of the training from now on!

Thanks Greg, and keep up the great work!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sizzling Hot Skillet...Clubtail.

Yesterday was about as hot a day as we have had so far this year -- around 93°F, humid, and very hot sun. I stopped out at Hudson Mills Metropark, which the Huron River flows through. There are some very nice riffle areas in that stretch of the river, with boulders along the edges, and slough areas with lots of pickerel weed and other emergent vegetation. There were lots of Argia moesta, Calopteryx maculata, Enallagma exsulans, Argia tibialis, and a few Hetaerina americana flying and perching. A single Anax junius was flying along the slow area of the river. Some gomphids were flying, but they were on the far side of the river (Murphy's Law #42 - Any interesting odes will always be on the other side of the river). I took a path to get closer to the water and spied a gomphid perched in the shade of a shrub. I approached slowly and swung my net -- and caught a male Gomphus ventricosus - the skillet clubtail.

It seemed that the day was too hot for even this skillet clubtail to be out and flying. Skillet clubtails are widespread in Michigan, based upon the map of our county records up through 2011. However, there are only 95 specimen records, most of which are from Douglas Lake, MI in Cheboygan Co. Most of the records from the Upper Peninsula are larvae and exuviae that were collected within the last 10 years. I suspect that like many species in Michigan, the records reflect a minimum extent of distribution. There are lots of good rivers that ought to support this small, but impressive clubtail.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Ebony Jewelwing

Calopteryx maculata is out now, and will be quite visible along streams for the next few months. This entry is adapted from a prospectus that I gave to Univ. Michigan Press last fall. Note that the map is outdated, as we have records for Saginaw Co. Just shows how much progress can happen in just a year. The text below is not at all indicative of how the MOA page will look, (and we won't have a clickable movie in the book ;)), but it is similar in content.

Ebony Jewelwing, Calopteryx maculata (Beauvois, 1805)

Range/Status: Widespread eastern species, ranging from Nova Scotia S to Florida and Texas, and W to Nebraska.

Extremely common, found in nearly every stream, from slow-moving wooded streams to the slower margins of larger rivers.

Habitat: Shaded streams and slough areas of rivers with undercut banks. Larvae are found amongst exposed roots, aquatic plants, and accumulation of sticks and other debris. Adults need nearby vegetation for perching near oviposition sites.

Identification: 2 in./5 cm. Wings all black in males, females have dark brown to black wings with white pterostigma. Iridescent emerald-green body, black eyes.
Ebony Jewelwing
Male, perched.

Behavior: Its slow flight, large black wings, iridescent emerald-green body, and habit of perching on leaves well away from streams, make it quite easily distinguished from other damselflies and dragonflies. The adults are easily observed in the field, and its biology has been the subject of many studies over the years. Adults typically start emerging in late May, and spend some time away from the stream habitat as they forage on insects at the margins of woods, at openings in the forest, and ecotonal areas where small flying insects are abundant. Once they reach sexual maturity, both sexes return to the stream and mate. A study by Kirkton & Schultz (2001) demonstrated that teneral males leave stream-side emergence sites to forage in forest gaps and build up energy reserves before returning to the streams to establish and hold mating territories. The courtship sequence and mating behavior has been well-described by Johnson (1962) and Waage (1973a). Males perch near oviposition sites at the edge of streams and guard the ovipositing females from other males.

A common resident of shaded streams and slough areas along rivers, it is perhaps the most obvious and easily-identified odonate in Michigan. In some suburban streams C. maculata appears to be the only species of Odonata capable of surviving flash runoff and reduced faunal complexity.
Flight Period.