August 15 2020 – Dragonflies with Owen Ridgen

Third time was a charm as far as the weather for our most recent MFNC outing was concerned. Those jewels of dragonflies, damselflies and even a fly masquerading as a bee (Tri-coloured narcissus bulb fly – Eristalis flavipes aka Orange legged Drone Fly), while not in the numbers we would expect to see when we go out earlier next year, were caught in sufficient numbers to offer trip participants a wonderful learning opportunity.  We started in Almonte at Blakeney Rapids (a hidden jewel of a spot with a wooded trail crossing over scenic creeks) and then made stops at several locations in and around Packenham and Kinburn, finishing at an out of the way piece of beach near Robert Simpson Park in Arnprior.  Owen wisely chose the locations with a variety of waterways in mind (river, marsh and lake) to increase the likelihood that a variety of species would be seen.

Even prior to the official start time, Owen’s helper (dad, David) was rounding up brown waterscorpions, nymphs and dragonflies down by the waterfront while Owen greeted participants and explained why the Black Witch Moth that had evaded Canadian Border Services and unfortunately expired at one of the participants property last week was so special.  Then as fast as they were brought in and Owen could swoop his net to catch them, the dragonflies were identified, sexed and all manner of information was shared about them.  With explanations of the differences in their colour and size: females are more robust; males have an extra bump and a grasping part, I think we can all now tell the difference between them.    Some of us might even remember the difference in colour between some of the younger and older dragonflies.  While the bite of the smaller ones generally doesn’t hurt, Owen stated that those in the Cruiser class can draw blood.  I am sure that Owen is thankful that he did not have to give a demonstration of that.

Owen advised that the month of May is a good time to look for the Rapids Clubtail dragonfly which is rare and endangered in Ontario but may be found along the Mississippi River.  Please note that it is illegal to net or harass endangered species and if seen should be reported to the Natural Heritage Information Centre:

The dragonflies that we saw from Blakeney Rapids were: Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata), Swamp Spreadwing (Lestes vigilax), Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta), Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis), Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile), Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis), Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa),  Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus – both male and female), Black-Shouldered Spinylegs (Dromogomphus spinosus) and the living aquatic nymphs of Springtime Darner (Basiaeshna Janata) and an Emerald species (probably American Emerald – Cordulia shurtleffii).

The dragonflies that we saw at Machardy Road were: a Mosaic Darner species (Likely Shadow Darner-Aeshna umbrosa which flew over a few times), White-Faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum), Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) and Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis).

While no adult dragonflies were seen at the beach at Arnprior, the Exuvia of both Elusive Clubtail (Stylurus notatus) and Stygian Shadowdragon (Neurocordulia yamaskanensis) were found.

Thank you once again Owen and David too.  And thank you Participants.

I hope this encourages other members to come out next year when we do another dragonfly outing and perhaps do a little dragonfly hunting on your own.

Respectfully submitted,

Janet McCullough, MFNC Field Trip Coordinator

Blakeney Rapids

Brown Waterscorpion

Owen Ridgen with Bluet

Reciprocal Door

Blakeney Rapids

Blakeney Rapids – Owen explaining

Expert Assistant, David

Owen with Ebony Jewelwing

Owen with Dragonhunters (male & female)

Dragonhunters – sex differences highlighted

Bee mimic – Orange legged Drone Fly

Bee mimic – Orange legged Drone Fly

Machardy Road

Eastern Pondhawk

Arnprior Beach