Libellula pulchella male at Konza Prairie, Kansas, mid-June, 2006.  Photo by Roy Beckemeyer.windsofkansas.com

ODONATA - Dragonflies & Damselflies

A Web Page by Roy J. Beckemeyer   -   Last updated 9 February, 2007

Background and Right: Two widespread and common, but quite lovely dragonflies (both males): Plathemis lydia, The Common Whitetail (Background), and Libellula pulchella, The Twelve-spotted Skimmer.  Both were photographed in Kansas in June, 2006: the Common Whitetail in Sim Park, Wichita, Sedgwick County, the Twelve-spotted Skimmer while leading a dragonfly walk on the Konza Prairie (Riley County) for the Friends of the Konza Prairie docents.  Most dragonflies commonly seen around ponds and lakes are skimmers (Family Libellulidae).  Dragonflies and damselflies are interesting to watch (they are often called "birdwatchers' insects" because of their size, colors, and interesting habits), and challenging, but fun, to photograph.  Many species can be identified through binoculars, some while in flight, but voucher specimens are still preferred for documenting their occurrence.

I have concentrated here on dragonfly topics that I am interested in, and hope that you find something of interest to you in these pages as well.  If you are from Kansas or one of the adjacent states and want to learn about or study the Odonata of our area, please get in touch with me (see the email address listed at the bottom of this page).  


  LINK HERE TO ACCESS THE NEWLY REVISED ODONATA CENTRAL 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                INTRODUCTION TO  DRAGONFLIES & DAMSELFLIES ODONATA BIODIVERSITY / ODONATA IMAGES / ODONATA BIBLIOGRAPHY / ODONATA LINKS / ODONATOLOGISTS  / KANSAS ODONATA / MISSOURI ODONATA / NEBRASKA ODONATA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Introduction to Dragonflies & Damselflies

Female Anax junius newly emerged from nymphal exuviaeDragonflies and damselflies are aquatic insects -

they spend most of their life under water in a completely different form than the winged adults.  These larvae (sometimes referred to as nymphs or naiads) typically take a year to mature, climb out of the water, and hatch into winged adults.  At right is a picture taken at a fish hatchery in Cherry County, Nebraska of a female Anax junius (Common Green Darner) dragonfly adult that has just emerged and is still clutching its larval shell (called an exuviae).  Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) are usually found near creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes, or other bodies of water.  The Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly perched on the stick in the picture at the top of this page is a male.  He was perched where he could look out over a small pool of water.  Most of the dragonflies and damselflies you see near open water are males.  They often establish a territory in a spot that they recognize as one where females would find attractive as places for laying eggs.  When a female arrives, she is immediately pursued by males intent on mating with her.  After mating, males often stay with females while they lay their eggs, sometimes holding on to them with appendages at the tip of their abdomen and flying with them as they oviposit. 

Damselflies and dragonflies of the family Aeshnidae place their eggs into plant material.  In the photo at right, a tandem pair of Aeshnidae: Anax junius (Common Green Darner) was flying around a roadside ditch and ovipositing early in the spring in southeastern Colorado. 

Photo taken in May, 2000 in Baca County, Colorado with a 70-200 mm f2.8 zoom lens with 2x telextender, Fuji Provia 400 film.  Scanned  using a Polaroid SprintScan 35 slide scanner.  Photography  © 2000 by Roy J. Beckemeyer.  

Odonata are aquatic insects for most of their lives, living in fresh water as larvae before emerging as terrestrial adults.  The picture on the left shows a recently emerged female Common Green Darner (Anax junius), clinging to its larval exuviae (skin).  The larva had climbed up about three feet on a cattail stalk at the edge of a small pond at the Fish Hatchery at Valentine, Nebraska.  The adult insect then emerged, and is now drying its wings prior to flying off.  The colors of the insect in this stage are much paler than they will be once it is mature.  There were quite a few Green Darners emerging on the morning that this picture was taken, in late July, 1998.  All that I saw were females, although there were mature males flying around the vicinity at this time.  Anax junius pair - male in front, ovipositing female behind

Photo by Roy Beckemeyer - taken with flash and using Fuji Velvia film.  Scanned from the slide using a Polaroid SprintScan 35 scanner.

In other dragonfly familes, females lay their eggs directly into the water or onto wet surfaces.  LINK HERE to a page of photos about how Libellulidae (Skimmers): Libellula composita oviposits directly into the water.  Photos also show how these insects fly in tandem.  LINK HERE to a page with photos of oviposition in Sympetrum corruptum.  LINK HERE to Takashi Aoki's Pages on video segments of various kinds of damselflies and dragonflies ovipositing.

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

Dragonfly Vision:

Head and thorax of Coryphaeschna ingensThe photo at the right shows the thorax and head of the darner Coryphaeschna ingens.  Photo taken in Florida by Roy J. Beckemeyer.  The darners are thought to have the finest vision of any insects, their eyes having the largest facets and the most facets of any compound eyes.  The dark areas of the eye are called "pseudo-pupils" and are areas of the eye surface that are absorbing light arriving from the direction of view of the camera.   They indicate the directions in which the insect has the best vision.  Dragonfly eyes are fascinating, and reflect light beautifully.


Damselfly Size:  

Link HERE for a page that illustrates the size ranges of extant damselflies.

 

Various Aspects of Dragonfly Biology:

 


INFORMATION ON KANSAS ODONATA

Species added to Kansas list in 1996 / Species added to Kansas list in 1997 / Species added to Kansas list in 1998 / Species added to Kansas list in 1999 / Species added to Kansas list in 2000

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KANSAS SCHOOL NATURALIST ISSUE "Checklist of Kansas Dragonflies"  COPIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM EMPORIA STATE UNIVERSITY
Thanks to Ken Brunson and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for Chickadee Checkoff funding for this publication.

Please access the following page for updates and corrections to this checklist: Addendum and errata to "Checklist of Kansas Dragonflies"

 

 

 

 

 


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KANSAS SCHOOL NATURALIST ISSUE "Checklist of Kansas Damselflies" IS STILL AVAILABLE FROM EMPORIA STATE UNIVERSITY                         Thanks to the Price R. and Flora A. Reid Foundation, The Central States Entomological Society, and Emporia State University for funding this publication.
            
                                     

Please access the following page for updates and corrections to this checklist: Addendum and errata to "Checklist of Kansas Damselflies".

Link here to download a Word for Windows file that will print the addenda in a format that can be placed into the checklists: Addenda

 

 

 


 

MISSOURI ODONATA INFORMATION FROM THE MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION DATABASE - Courtesy of Linden Trial (Updated 7/21/05):

Other information, including a checklist similar to those for Kansas and Oklahoma, and county level distribution maps will eventually be added.  


NEBRASKA CHECKLIST BY ROY BECKEMEYER

NEBRASKA CHECKLIST Will eventually include maps.  Based largely on records assembled by Roy Beckemeyer before and after the 1998 DSA Meeting in Valentine, NE and from information in the extensive University of Nebraska State Museum (UNSM)  insect collection at Lincoln.  


OKLAHOMA CHECKLIST BASED ON GEORGE BICK'S RECORDS


ODONATA BIODIVERSITY -  

THE NUMBER OF FAMILIES, GENERA, AND SPECIES FOR THE GREAT PLAINS, THE NEARCTIC, THE NEW WORLD, AND THE WORLD ARE COMPARED IN THE -

 

The photo on the right above  is a Thailand odonate, the libellulid Trithemis aurora, a shocking pink and red dragonfly that will knock your socks off the first time you get it in your binoculars or viewfinder.  Photo by Roy J. Beckemeyer, January, 2000 -

- The photo on the right shows some libellulid exuviae found in the reed beds near Hua Hin, peninsular Thailand, in January, 2000.  Photo by Roy J. Beckemeyer.

- Many of the Indian Odonata species depicted by Dr. Kakkassery are also common to Thailand.

Dragonflies have always held a special place in the thoughts of the Japanese people.  As Mr. Aoki points out in the opening words at his web site, in ancient times, Japan was often called "Akitsu Shima", which means dragonfly's island.

This above site, hosted by Eric Gilbert of Hong Kong, has photos of many Asian Odonata posted.

 

 

The above two sites record some of the dragonflies that I saw in trips to South and Central America.

The above lists, put together by Martin Schorr, Martin Lindeboom, and Dennis Paulson, list all described species together with synonyms, author, and date of description.


ODONATA BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION BASED ON MY ODONATOLOGICAL LIBRARY

ODONATA BIBLIOGRAPHY

Includes complete citations from the journals: Odonatologica, Notulae Odonatolgicae, Advances in Odonatology, Bulletin of American Odonatology, Pantala, the International Journal of Odonatology, the Odonata series from Opuscula Zoologica Fluminensia and odonate-related papers from the Journal of the North American Benthological Society, as well as miscellaneous works that I have accumulated in the form of reprints or xerox copies. This is a fairly comprehensive list of citations covering thousands of pages of odonate-related publications, and of course can be searched using Netscape or other browser editors. While some work is cited in one or more of the categories, most are cited only in the most relevant category. For example, a discussion of a single species in Ohio would be listed under the taxon, whereas a list of species found to occur in a river system in Ohio would be cited in the faunistics bibliography. Entries are listed alphabetically by author.

On 6 February I added Dennis Paulson's Odonata Literature List to the Bibliography Link above.  This adds many more references than the ones in my subject lists and includes articles not in my library.


ODONATA IMAGES:


LINKS TO OTHER SITES OF INTEREST TO ODONATISTS -

Organizations / Regional Faunal Lists / Other Sites with Links / Photo Sites / Phylogenetics / Odonata Surveys 


Organizations:


Regional Odonata Faunal Lists:


International Odonata Sites and Links to Other Sites:


Sites related to Odonata Phylogeny & Systematics:


Photographs:


Odonata Surveys:


ODONATOLOGISTS - 


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