Observing Odonata

Sadly, on some of the sites I use regularly for data on dragonflies and damselflies, there is no weather-related information or even time-of-day information. So I've been stumbling around, trying to figure out when the best times are to observe these creatures.

I have been fortunate several times to find dragonflies at mid-morning, e.g. 9-10:30AM. I've been less fortunate in finding them from around 11:00AM until about 2:00PM particularly on very warm summer days.

In the afternoon, from around 2:00PM until around 3:30 or 4PM, I often see both dragonflies and damselflies. After about 4PM, things seem to settle down again and numbers gradually lessen. I have not been successful in observing/discovering evening-flying dragonflies or damselflies but I know they exist and will keep trying for those.

In late August, around 4PM, it was particularly easy to see the Common Green Darner (Anax junius) in pairs, ovipositing in ephemeral puddles and ponds after we'd had a good amount of rain in previous days. One day around 4PM in early September, I saw 4 pairs of Anax junius (each pair in tandem) ovipositing within 16 cm of each other in the same puddle! As a side note, I wonder how successful this ultimately will be since the puddles really are ephemeral and only present for a few days after a heavy rainfall. We do get more rain in the autumn months, but not enough to keep those puddles filled with water until next summer.

Weather: I've discovered that if there is a "window" of sunny weather between rain showers, that is a particularly good time to go out. When I was at the Cedar Island boat ramp pond, it rained heavily and then quit for an hour. The sun came out and there were a lot of both dragonflies and damselflies flying in the sunshine. It rained again about an hour later and both species disappeared (and so did I). The next day was sunny all day and much less productive than it had been during that window between showers.

Cloudy days aren't much good for observing either, although Ischnura prognata don't seem to care if it's overcast since they are in the shadowy forested swamp anyway.

Spring and the first half of the summer are the best months for damselflies here in NC. After that, they seem to be much less frequently seen with the exceptions of the Ishnura genus (Ischnura hastata becomes much more prevalent in late summer than in early summer - at least here in NC) and onsies-twosies here and there of other species. It seems like once the skimmers (Libellula) become numerous in late July, the damselflies start to dwindle/hide more.

Posted on September 18, 2023 02:59 PM by amybirder amybirder


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