Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dragonflies Galore

A few days ago I took my lightweight canoe up to the lake and paddled around the perimeter, about six miles. A beautiful morning it was, clear and cool -- more like northern New England in mid-August than Pennsylvania usually is at this time of year.

There was an abundance of dragonflies in the vegetation along the water's edge. The Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) is an ancient group of predatory insects and one of those dragonflies is reported to have been the largest insect that ever lived. Dragonfly adults are fast fliers that feed on other insects, while the nymphs are aquatic ambush predators.

Many adult dragonflies are very colorful insects and their common names tend to be as colorful as the insects themselves. Among the lake's most abundant dragonfly denizens were:

 Spangled Skimmers -

Halloween Pennants -

and Widow Skimmers - 

But not even predators are immune from predation; this golden garden spider, which had spun its web in the vegetation in shallow water, had gotten itself a meal of a dragonfly of undetermined species --

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