02 July 2015

June is Gomphid Time

This year I wanted to confirm flying adults of a couple species of clubtails for Washtenaw County.  Cobra Clubtail (Gomphus vastus) and Riverine Clubtail (Stylurus amnicola) adults had been photographed by others in past years.

I started searching May 23rd at Hudson Mills Metropark along the Huron River.  Several exuviae and one emerging Rusty Snaketail (Ophiogomphus rupinsulensis) were found.

emerging Rusty Snaketail (O. rupinsulensis)

One of the collected exuviae appears to be Cobra Clubtail (G. vastus) and will be checked by another person or two.

Here is a closeup of the exuvia of the emerging snaketail.

Rusty Snaketail (O. rupinsulensis) exuvia
On May 28th I checked Delhi Metropark and found more exuviae.  Again, Rusty Snaketails and an apparent Cobra Clubtail (which needs confirmation) were collected.  Teneral adults were observed flying up to the trees along the Huron River.  The days and nights following this visit were quite cool/cold and I wonder if the teneral individuals survived since I didn't find good numbers of clubtails in the following week.

Also present were a few Rapids Clubtails (G. quadricolor) and a couple Cyrano Darners (Nasiaeschna pentacantha). 

male Rapids Clubtail (G. quadricolor)
male Cyrano Darner (N. pentacantha)

On June 3rd Sharon Mills County Park had a few species including Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes).

female Unicorn Clubtail (A. villosipes)
On June 11th, I visited Sharon Mills and only found Unicorn Clubtails once again.  I headed downstream to the Raisin River crossing at Sharon Valley Road.  There were Rusty Snaketails (Ophiogomphus rupinsulensis), Swift River Cruisers (Macromia illinoiensis), and a few male Green-faced Clubtails (Gomphus viridifrons).


male Green-faced Clubtail (G. viridifrons)
dorsal view of a male Green-faced Clubtail's abdomen

On June 13th, I returned to Delhi Metropark and finally had success with one of my targets.  Flying adult Riverine Clubtails (S. amnicola) were out and I saw at least two males.


male Riverine Clubtail (S. amnicola)






I may have glimpsed a Cobra Clubtail (G. vastus) up in the trees, but it didn't allow a proper view for identification.  Also present were approximately ten female Rusty Snaketails (O. rupinsulensis) perching in the vegetation away from the Huron River. 

female Rusty Snaketail (O. rupinsulensis)

I returned to Delhi Metropark on June 18th and saw one Cobra Clubtail (G. vastus) but it was skittish and too far away to be photographed.  There were also a couple young female Riverine Clubtails (S. amnicola).

female Riverine Clubtail (S. amnicola)

The Cobra Clubtail (G. vastus) eluded me throughout June, but I still have some time in July, or there's always next year.




28 June 2015

SW Wayne County Corporal Check

Given the number of Chalk-fronted Corporals (Ladona julia) I had been observing in Washtenaw and Jackson Counties in early June, I thought I should check a couple locations in southwest Wayne County on June 7th before afternoon storms arrived.

Crosswinds Marsh was my first stop.  The northwestern portion of phase I has good habitat for a variety of odes.  Immediately present was a Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata) and dozens were observed during the 3-mile hike.

female Painted Skimmer (L. semifasciata)

Approaching a creek crossing, I saw a darner flying towards the large culvert.  As it made a pass, a large "nose" and a tapered end to the abdomen were evident: Cyrano Darner (Nasiaeschna pentacantha).

Following the creek upstream from the Arkona Road area, there is a boardwalk along a ponded area created by beavers.  At this location two male Cyrano Darners were battling.

male Cyrano Darner (N. pentacantha)
 Unfortunately, no corporals were found.

Next stop was Sherwood Park, aka Banotai Park, in Sumpter Township.  Over 2 miles of walking and I didn't find my target species.  There were a couple Painted Skimmers.

male Painted Skimmer

 Also, I did find two other species that are rare in Wayne County: Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata) and Lancet Clubtail (Gomphus exilis).


teneral female Banded Pennant (C. fasciata)
Lancet Clubtail (G. exilis)


27 June 2015

Park Lyndon North Bog in June

Over the winter I had hiked a number of parks and preserves in western Washtenaw County looking for possible dragonfly habitat.  Park Lyndon is one of the many great destinations in the county. There is great access to a number of water features via trails and boardwalks.  One area appeared bog-like during the winter visit and I heard there was bog habitat present.


I visited on June 4th and brought Julie back on June 6th due to the variety of odes and interesting plants in the portion of the park north of Territorial Road.

Some of the less encountered dragonflies included: Boreal Bluet (Enallagma boreale), Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata), Racket-tailed Emeralds (Dorocordulia libera), Spangled Skimmers (L. cyanea), a large number of Chalk-fronted Corporals (Ladona julia), Spatterdock Darners (Rhionaeschna mututa), and a surprise with a Twin-spotted Spiketail (Cordulegaster maculata).  The numbers of baskettails (Epitheca sp.) flying around the picnic area and parking lot were amazing.

Spangled Skimmer (L. cyanea)

Chalk-fronted Corporal (L. julia)
female Racket-tailed Emerald (D. libera)
male Spatterdock Darners (R. mutata)
female Twin-spotted Spiketail (C. maculata)
dorsal view of Twin-spotted Spiketail abdomen

This area is sure to hold more interesting species during the flight season and in future years.


14 May 2015

Boghunters Converge

In 2014, Mark O'Brien had received information from David Marvin that he found Ringed Boghaunters (Williamsonia lintneri) at Rose Lake State Wildlife Research Area east of Lansing, MI.  At the beginning of May, Mark said we should look for the boghaunters when the Amelanchiers are blooming.

May 2nd looked like a perfect day for an afternoon of searching.  We parked at the lot across from the shooting range on Peacock Road in Clinton County.  A trail heads east to the bog which is approximately 1/2 mile away just inside Shiawassee County.  Mark was on the prowl.


We found a few very teneral Dot-tailed Whitefaces (L. intacta), a Common Green Darner (A. junius), and several teneral Beaverpond Baskettails (E. canis).

male Beaverpond Baskettail
After an hour of searching the leaves and branches at knee-high or lower, a Ringed Boghaunter (W. lintneri) flew past me and landed on a tree trunk just below waist height.

My first Ringed Boghaunter (W. lintneri)

Shortly after this sighting, a person appeared down the trail with a camera and was obviously searching the area.  It turns out that it was David Marvin and he was the original finder of the boghaunters at this location in 2014.

the boghunters : David Marvin and Mark O'Brien
David noted that he had observed a couple further down the trail.  With continued searching low (below knee level), I started looking a bit higher and found a couple flying above head height with one landing vertically on a tree trunk.  I lifted my net to the trunk about 8 feet above the ground and the ode didn't fly.  I actually had to nudge the dragonfly off the tree with the rim of my net in order to flip it into the bag.  The weather that day was primarily sunny, with light breeze, and temperatures near 70F.

male Ringed Boghaunter

With these sightings, Mark's timing prediction for adult Williamsonia remains intact.  The serviceberries are blooming and the boghaunters are flying.





22 April 2015

Searching for Petaltail Habitat

In 2014, the process began in Michigan to review the T & E speciesGray Petaltail (Tachopteryx thoreyi) is one species included on the list.  With less than a handful of specimens and a few known historical locations, this year I have decided to check for presence in SW Michigan counties.  (note:  This species is protected in Michigan and cannot be collected without a special permit)

To save time during the flight season, I scouted a few locations in Cass and St. Joseph counties on April 4, 2015. I found this Maryland website that describes the species' habitat.

Lawless Park, Cass County

It had been suggested to check Dr. T. K. Lawless Park since it has forested hills with seeps.  I walked a good portion of the trails (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and a portion of 7).

Trail #5 is a nice hike but the west end that used to be farmland is overrun by non-native, invasive plants.  There are a couple of streams that may hold some interested odes:



Trails # 4 and 7 appeared to have the most appropriate petaltail habitat.

Seeps from the hill above trail #4 contributed to the wetland at the base:



The open beech-maple forest makes for a pleasant walk:


I didn't walk all of trail #7, but I would guess there would be potential habitat in the southwest area of trail, up to Lewis Lake Road.


Three Rivers SGA, Cass/St. Joseph Counties

I had visited Wood Creek in the Cass County portion of the state game area last year since one petaltail record was from this section.  MNFI performed surveys of this area in 2009 and this report is worth reviewing.

Wood Creek

The habitat at the creek crossing isn't right for breeding petaltails, but there were a number of other species including a significant find. (to be covered in a future post)  I looked for other access points to hillsides from the Cass County area and it was too overgrown with buckthorn and honeysuckle for "easy" access.  Then a thunderstorm arrived and finished my partial day of exploring.  Before visiting this spring, I checked topographic maps and satellite images for possible hillsides with access on the St. Joseph County side.

Purgatory Road seemed to get closest to areas with potential habitat.  Access from the road areas is a bit difficult due to thick areas of non-native, invasive buckthorns and honeysuckles, but after bushwhacking through the thickets, the woods open up significantly.   The hillsides had some seeps and the lower areas included wooded wetlands and Mill Creek.


Approximately 3/4 mile in from the road, there were large areas that appeared to have potential for petaltails.  Getting back here with a net in June will be on the agenda.

between Mill Creek and Purgatory Road

Mill Creek at Preston Road appears to be a promising area with the easiest accessibility. The bridge area has parking and there are hillside seeps within a couple hundred meters of the road.

Mill Creek at Preston Road

Curtis Creek (aka Profile Lake Drain) at Preston Road was interesting also as it has fairly easy access to the water.  It may not have good petaltail habitat nearby, but there are likely a variety of other odes.

Curtis Creek, aka Profile Lake Drain

The most interesting insect on this early date was found on a dead raccoon.  There were 14+ Margined Carrion Beetles (Oiceoptoma noveboracense) swarming around this carcass.

Margined Carrion Beetles (Oiceoptoma noveboracense)

This scouting trip was successful for finding accessible locations to revisit in late June.  Hopefully, we'll have another post in June/July noting success in finding flying Gray Petailtails (T. thoreyi) for additional locations than previously recorded.