20 March 2014
The last few months, the state has tasked various committees with reviewing threatened and endangered species, which is done periodically by law. As part of my work on the Insect Technical Advisory Committee, I've been reviewing all the Odonata species currently listed in Michigan as Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern.
As the committee works to form recommendations on elevations, downgrades, additions, and subtractions to the list, we can see that the relatively recent popularity of dragonflies has provided us with a lot of new data to work with. Alas, there are still some species for which we'd like more data on distribution and abundance in the state.
We are going to take advantage of the interest in Michigan Odonata and the Atlas project to ask you to contribute data on a list of about a dozen species this summer season. As their flight dates near, we'll be posting about each species, the habitats and historical locations they have been found, and further information we would like to gather.
We feel that current and accurate data is not only critical to the endangered species review process, but also to the Atlas project. Much of what I've already put together for the committee work will be incorporated into the Atlas species accounts. Mark has also been busy incorporating many new records into the MOS database. All of this -- plus your contributions -- will make the Atlas project even more valuable to Odonata conservation!
The first call for data will be in May. Stay tuned
10 November 2012
|Sympetrum vicinum om 11/09/2011|
I was out at Pittsfield Preserve in Washtenaw Co. yesterday around 1 pm, and the temperature was about 53°F, but sunny. Lo and behold, a male Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) was warming itself on the packed dirt path ahead of me. Some years, we have records of these as late as December, if there has been no really hard frost or several days of below-freezing temps. Autumn Meadowhawk is a good name for this species that lingers into the gray days of November, only to alight in front of us on a sunny day -- a dash of red on a sea of tans and browns.
I know we get all fired up about early records, but of course, late records are just as important. It would interesting to know just how late this species was 50 years ago in SE Michigan.
24 July 2012
Calopteryx aequabilis Say
Calopteryx maculata (Beauvois)
Amphiagrion saucium (Burmeister)
Argia moesta (Hagen)
Enallagma exsulans (Hagen)
Enallagma vesperum Calvert
Ischnura posita (Hagen)
Ischnura verticalis (Say)
Anax junius (Drury)
Basiaeschna janata (Say)
Dromogomphus spinosus Selys
Gomphus fraternus (Say)
Ophiogomphus rupinsulensis (Walsh)
Macromia illinoiensis Walsh
Celithemis eponina (Drury)
Leucorrhinia intacta (Hagen)
Libellula luctuosa Burmeister
--Pretty easy to add some good records, I bet. Of course we know that a lot of species are going to be found in most of the counties. However, that's not the same as having vouchers, and it's a lot of fun being the first to document a species for a particular county. So, we have a few months left in the season, plenty of time for skimmers, darners, and wandering gliders, etc.
18 July 2012
Carolina Saddlebags and Spot-winged Glider are much more common, although more so in some years than others. However, all the Trameas and Pantalas can be pretty tough to net due to their habit of flying continuously over water and/or up high. Thus, they are under-represented in the MOS collection.
Here's what we're looking for:
|Red Saddlebags, Wayne County. Photo by Julie Craves. Map of MOS voucher specimens through 2011.|
Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta). As of the end of 2011, this species has only been collected in four Michigan counties. They are making a strong movement north this year, with sightings well into Canada. Red Saddlebags are smaller than the abundant Black Saddlebags (T. lacerata) and Carolina Saddlebags. They differ from Carolinas in lacking a purple frons; having less black on s8 and s9, usually restricted to the top of the sections and not extending down the sides; and having a larger clear "window" in the base of the wings. Males also have larger hamules. Here is a side-by-side from the Iowa odes website.
|Carolina Saddlebags, Wayne County. Photo by Julie Craves. Map of MOS voucher specimens through 2011.|
|Striped Saddlebags, Wayne County. Photo by Julie Craves.|
Striped Saddlebags (Tramea calverti). The only record in Michigan of this species is from Wayne County in 2010. That year saw an unprecedented northern invasion of this southern species. This year is shaping up to be another great year. In June, there were photographic records of Striped Saddlebags for Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in early July they were photographed in northern Ohio (none of these records indicated vouchers were taken -- remarkably, of the dozens reported the last few years in northern states, the two specimens we took in 2010 are the only vouchers that I know of).
|Spot-winged Glider, Wayne County. Photo by Julie Craves. Map of MOS voucher specimens through 2011.|
Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea). While not as common as Wandering Glider (P. flavescens), this species is not rare in Michigan. As is evident by the map, it is clearly widespread, but really under-represented by specimens. Vouchers are needed to accurately show the distribution in the state. Here are some ID tips from the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership.
|Variegated Meadowhawk, Alger County. Photo by Mark O'Brien. Map of MOS voucher specimens through 2011.|
Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). This is another hit-or-miss species in Michigan. They aren't anywhere near as hard to catch as the Trameas or Pantalas, since they tend to stay near and perch in waist-high vegetation. They are more common in the western U.S. and Great Plains, but tend to wander and are strongly migratory. When we found them in Wayne County in 2006 (after last being collected in 1931), they were emerging from tire ruts in a wet field in June, so presumably they can also breed and overwinter here. The map indicates they can show up anywhere, so be on the lookout. Here are some ID tips from the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership.
16 July 2012
Go get'em -- and make this the first species to be collected in all 83 Michigan counties! See Mark's post on Michigan Odonotes.
♂ and ♀ Calopteryx maculata in copula. Photo by Mark O'Brien, all rights reserved.
13 June 2012
Recently, he scored a good one: a recently emerged Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus) on a turbulent stretch of the Shiawassee River. There are fewer than 50 adult records of this species in the MOS database. Because the individual was still very soft bodied, he placed it in a covered aquarium when he returned home to let it harden up before he dispatched it in acetone for curation (very teneral specimens have dull coloration and tend to "implode" if placed in acetone too soon).
Jeff briefly left the room, only to return to find the aquarium on the floor, top off, and the remains of the sanddragon -- a mangled wing and thorax -- in the mouth of his cat. The cat's name is Darner. We are not making this up.
Fortunately, Jeff has some photos, and he also collected an exuvia which hopefully belonged to the tasty sanddragon.
|Common Sanddragon -- a.k.a. "cat food." Photo by Jeff Sommer, all rights reserved.|
We can relate to this! Mark and Adrienne O'Brien have a four-cat household: Johan, Val, Kosh, and Sassafras. Julie Craves and Darrin O'Brien have two cats, Sophie and Juniper. I can't speak for Mark's close encounters, but several times Juniper has taken an immediate interest in odes wiggling in their glassine envelopes as soon as we walk in the house after a collecting trip. So far, no casualties.
Mark adds: When Adrienne and I first moved to Ann Arbor in 1981, we adopted a stray cat that I named Frank, after Frank Kurczewski, my graduate advisor at Syracuse. We lived in an apartment at the time, and I was collecting a lot of Hymenoptera my first summer here. One day I had pinned up a bunch of specimens and left them on the kitchen table. I don't recall how long they were there -- probably just a few hours, but when I came back, it was obvious that Frank had been nosing through them and one was missing, pin and all. The next day I saw Frank, and a pin was sticking out of his butt --and luckily it was the rounded part first. I pulled it out, and the cat apparently suffered no other effects, as he lived for about 14 years.
15 May 2012
These two species are very hard to tell apart, even in the hand with magnification. Some may elude identification completely. We are unsure of the exact range of E. costalis in Michigan, what proportion of the population are intergrades, and how much the morphology (in particular wing coloration) of either species varies across the area.
We encourage the collection of specimens of Epithecas of these species; small series from various locations are especially helpful. It's not completely necessary that you conclusively identify them. For information on this species complex, take a look at the post at Urban Dragon Hunters on the Wayne County record of E. costalis (then called Stripe-winged Baskettail) and the following resources: