Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ophiogomphus colubrinus

Cool. Super cool.

We were privileged to see a hatch of Ophiogomphus colubrinus, also known as the Boreal Snaketail. It was, of course, Ian, who first noticed the nymphs crawling out of the Brule to complete their metamorphosis into full-on dragonflies.

Since it was right at a landing, Ian took it upon himself to rescue snaketail nymphs from being crushed by careless paddlers (there were large youth groups that day who were not exactly aware of anything going on outside their immediate world). So we did, and did so for over an hour.

Ian is the micro-observer who misses nothing. It is because of him we see much of what we see—turtles, birds, insects, all sorts of wildlife. I catch the flowers and plants, he catches everything else. Pretty cool.

At first I thought these were Common Green Darners since they are, after all, common. But the body shape was wrong, the head shape was wrong, but these were not a species I recognized. Not a Darner. Not a Skimmer. Then I started noticing the end of the abdomen—a slight flair at the end, indicating a Gomphidae. This is one of the cooler categories - Clubtails.

Clubtails are a nifty little category. There are some fascinating species within the category, including the fairly rare Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus). I didn't know they were rare when I was once paddling the in Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota and saw a couple of them sunning themselves along a pebbly beach. I snapped a picture and analyzed it later. When I talked to a friend of mine about it, he became very excited. Apparently a few years before he had been out hunting for clubtails with a German friend who, when he spotted the Dragonhunter, started shaking from excitement. I have heard of buck fever, but odonate fever?

It's always amazing that a dragonfly comes out of that nymph. It's pretty cool.

There was another skimmer hatching - a few Chalk-Fronted Corporals.

Respectfully submitted,


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