Dragonfly

Dragonfly.jpg

Dragonfly, Anisoperta, etc.

 

Look around the pond and prairie for dragonflies flitting in the air. Throughout spring and summer, peer into the pond to search for large dragonfly nymphs scuttling through the water or spot nymph casings clinging to plants along the shore, where they make the transition from wingless juveniles to flying adults.

Girl holding dragonfly nymph
A dragonfly nymph from the ALNC pond

Dragonflies are one of the most unique and friendly insect families in North America. While they mostly live in tropical rainforests, many species live in wetlands and forests of cooler climates such as Wisconsin. These ancient insects are already large compared to other insects; however, millions of years ago they grew to over 30 inches in length!

 

During their adult lives, dragonflies snack on other winged insects such as mosquitoes, moths or butterflies. Most of their lives, however, are spent in the water as nymphs, where they eat anything smaller than they are, such as fish, larvae, or worms. Because they have lives split between water and land, dragonflies are great creatures to study for the effects of climate change.

Dragonfly - Vignette
A common whitetail or long-tailed skimmer (Plathemis lydia) on ALNC’s pond

As temperatures warm, dragonflies, like many other species, are expected to spread into regions that used to be too cold for them. Unfortunately for dragonflies, some of the ways we are trying to slow climate change are harmful to these insects. Hydropower is a promising renewable energy source, but it destroys their wetland habitats. Solar panels, which turn the sun’s energy into clean electricity, sometimes attract dragonflies because they are shiny like water — they mistakenly lay eggs on these hot panels, where the offspring cannot survive. How important is it to factor impacts on species like dragonflies into new technologies that are better for the planet overall?

D.1.a solar install
Look up — this PV solar panel is one of many on the roof of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center!

Spot something cool? Snap and upload a photo and caption on our Siftr page!  (www.siftr.org/alnc)

 

Sources

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/3321299/Dragonfly-should-be-climate-change-indicator.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/global-warming-threat-to-native-dragonfly-species-813331.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly#Feeding

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