Sunday, August 25, 2019

HumBug: Mayflies on the Van Duzen

Posted By on Sun, Aug 25, 2019 at 11:10 AM

Getting a late start, I made my way down to the river after the sun had gone from the canyon. I noted many tiny flying insects 6 inches on either side of the water's edge. A spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius) strolled up the minute beach pecking here and there as it went. The insects I saw were small mayflies, thousands of them. 
A specimen of a large species native to the Van Duzen River. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A specimen of a large species native to the Van Duzen River.


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Sunday, August 18, 2019

HumBug: Damsels vs. Dragons

Posted By on Sun, Aug 18, 2019 at 11:50 AM

At a party I was recently asked the difference between damselflies and dragonflies. Although close relatives (order odonata) that live very similar lives, there are some differences.

Both groups spend the majority of their lives as aquatic larvae breathing water. They are all hunters but with varying specialties. Some hide in the detritus in the bottom of ponds, others swim freely like tiny fish and still others stalk prey through submerged weeds and algae.
Male American rubyspot damselfly. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Male American rubyspot damselfly.
There is, of course, an exception, possibly the most ancient group of dragonflies, the petaltails. This family, considered the most primitive, spend their juvenile years amphibiously, in wet burrows on mud banks and bogs often venturing out at night to hunt. These particular nursery requirements make them very uncommon.

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

HumBug: New Dragon, Bold Patterns and Teeny Bees

Posted By on Sun, Aug 4, 2019 at 11:13 AM

A walk along the Van Duzen River on a warm, sunny day can produce some surprises. Today I spotted a dragonfly which is new to my “life list” (a term I've adopted from my birding friends). Libellula pulchella, the 12 spotted skimmer. Named for the total number of black spots on their wings, they are common elsewhere, but this is the first of this species I've seen in our area. According to the texts, they normally hang about marshy locations, not rocky riverbeds. So this fella is unlikely to meet up with a lady 12 spot, and make little 12 spots, so his selection of locale is unlikely to be passed on.
A male 12 spot dragonfly. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A male 12 spot dragonfly.


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