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Ocellated Emerald (Somatochlora minor) on the prowl / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Ocellated Emerald (Somatochlora minor) on the prowl / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Little else in nature rivals the scintillation, the explosion of green, expressed in the eyes of the dragonflies we call “Emeralds.” Here’s how it usually happens: You’re squishing around in a spruce bog or walking a woodland trail, and you notice the laser glow from 30 meters away. It seems to emerge from some other dimension. And it is zooming a determined course toward you. This is a state of bliss and anticipation for any self-respecting dragonfly watcher (dragonflyer).

That particular emerald above, a male Ocellated Emerald (Somatochlora minor), was looking for sex. Or so I assume. On the final day of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas meeting in Saskatchewan, I was knee-deep in a gentle flow of water and sedge when I noticed a female Ocellated Emerald, hovering, dipping her abdomen in water, rising a couple of inches, then slapping her abdomen against a mossy bank. She repeated this sequence in rapid fashion for about three minutes. She was laying eggs. I got close enough for video, which you’ll find below. But after she’d vacated the spot, he showed up, hovering, and almost certainly looking for her. (Dragonflies mate multiple times.) That’s when I got the flight shot.

Zigzag Darner (Aeshna sitchensis) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Zigzag Darner (Aeshna sitchensis) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

This is how it went during the DSA meeting. Nearly everything cooperated – the weather (mostly sunny), the community of Prince Albert, and most of all our airborne subjects. We encountered 52 species of dragonflies and damselflies, including a new provincial record for Dorocordulia libera (Racket-tailed Emerald) landed by Cary Kerst. I’ve posted the list below (after the Dorcas Copper). Highlights included eight species of Somatochlora (those emeralds); eight species of Aeshna (mosaic darners), including A. sitchensis (Zigzag Darner), a lifer for me; and critical new encounters with Stylurus notatus (Elusive Clubtail) and S. intricatus (Brimstone Clubtail). (I was proud to have found both as adults.) Our gratitude goes to meeting organizer Dave Halstead and his crew of dedicated volunteers, who pulled off one of the most hospitable DSA meetings in memory.

After the emerald video, I’ll leave you with two images of Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas) from a bog up here. Yeah, I bushwhacked to get there. Onward toward Montana, Baird’s Sparrows, and Ruth!

Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

2013 Dragonfly Society of the Americas Annual Meeting Species List

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and environs, as well as points north beyond Missinipe
July 10-17, 2013
(R) = rare

Calopterygidae – Broad winged Damsels
Calopteryx aequabilis – River Jewelwing

Lestidae – Spreadwings     
Lestes disjunctus – Common Spreadwing
Lestes dryas – Emerald Spreadwing
Lestes forcipatus – Sweetflag Spreadwing (R)
Lestes unguiculatus – Lyre-tipped Spreadwing

Coenagrionidae – Bluets   
Coenagrion angulatumPrairie Bluet (R)
Coenagrion  interrogatum –  Subarctic Bluet (R)
Coenagrion  resolutum – Taiga Bluet
Enallagma boreale – Boreal Bluet
Enallagma annexum – Northern Bluet
Enallagma ebrium – Marsh Bluet
Enallagma hageniHagen’s Bluet
Ischnura damula – Plain’s Forktail (R)
Nehalennia ireneSedge Sprite

Aeshnidae – Darners          
Anax junius – Common Green Darner (R) (nymph discovered by Ken Tennessen)
Aeshna canadensisCanada Darner
Aeshna eremita – Lake Darner
Aeshna interruptaVariable Darner
Aeshna juncea – Sedge Darner
Aeshna sitchensis – Zig-zag Darner
Aeshna subarctica – Subarctic Darner (R)
Aeshna tuberculifera – Black-tipped Darner (R)
Aeshna umbrosa –  Shadow Darner
Basiaeschna janataSpringtime Darner (R)

Gomphidae – Clubtails      
Ophiogomphus colubrinus – Boreal Snaketail
Ophiogomphus severus – Pale Snaketail
Stylurus intricatus – Brimstone Clubtail (R)
Stylurus notatus – Elusive Clubtail (R)

Cordullidae – Emeralds    
Cordulia shurtleffi – American Emerald
Dorocordulia libera – Racket-tailed Emerald (new provincial record by Cary Kerst)
Epitheca canis – Beaverpond Baskettail
Epitheca spinigera – Spiny Baskettail
Somatochlora albicincta – Ringed Emerald (R)
Somatochlora cingulata – Lake Emerald (R)
Somatochlora forcipata – Forcipate Emerald (R)
Somatochlora franklini – Delicate Emerald (R)
Somatochlora kennedyi – Kennedy’s Emerald (R)
Somatochlora minor – Ocellated Emerald
Somatochlora walshii – Brush-tipped Emerald (R)
Somatochlora williamsoni – Williamson’s Emerald (R)

Libellulidae – Skimmers
Leucorrhinia borealis – Boreal Whiteface
Leucorrhinia glacialis – Crimson-ringed Whiteface
Leucorrhinia hudsonica- Hudsonian Whiteface
Leucorrhinia intacta – Dot-tailed Whiteface
Leucorrhinia patricia – Canada Whiteface (R)
Leucorrhinia proxima – Red-waisted Whiteface
Libellula julia – Chalk-fronted Corporal
Libellula quadrimaculata – Four-spotted Skimmer
Sympetrum danae – Black Meadowhawk
Sympetrum internum – Cherry-faced Meadowhawk
Sympetrum madidum – Red-veined Meadowhawk (R)
Sympetrum obtrusum – White-faced Meadowhawk

1 comment
  1. Tim Newcomb says:

    That’s no Ocellated Emerald…it’s a new-fangled drone, so watch out! Not only is it winged, it’s armed!

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