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Everglades Airshow

July 26, 2010

After an exhausting six hour swamp walk in search of Ghost Orchids, my friends and I emerged from the blazing, sweltering sawgrass prairie and arrived back at our vehicles. The desolate dirt road they were parked on paralleled a drainage canal in the Everglades that carried the life blood of the “River of Grass” from points north towards civilization. Water does not flow naturally out here like it once did, at least not on the horizontal plane. Most of the water that nourishes the Everglades comes down vertically as rain. Everything else is consumed by humans.

Entirely wiped out, I unfold a chair, sit and drink the last of what is now sun-heated water from my water bottle.

I don’t stir. I don’t have the energy to. But the air buzzes with activity as I witness my own Everglades air show. Bees, wasps and butterflies zip from flower to flower checking for nectar. Predatory dragonflies navigate the tall grass like lace-winged fighter pilots seeking prey to tear apart and devour.

What is striking to me is the diversity of creatures in the small roadside patch of grass before me. In an area no bigger than a kiddy pool, I count numerous insects flitting about and without leaving my chair I’m able to pan a total of six feet and spot four seemingly distinct species of Dragonflies. Or did I?

Top Right and Bottom Left – Common Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)
Bottom Right – Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)
Top Left – Mystery Dragonfly

As the male Common Pondhawk matures, green with black stripes gives way to a powdery blue pattern. The dragonfly in the top right is the same as the one in the bottom left.

Your homework is to figure out which dragonfly is in the top left. Note the yellow spots on each wing, the amber pattern on the upper forewing and the distinct black coloration on the tail? All photos were taken in Collier County, Florida. Now get to your Audubon Insect Guide/mobile application and figure it out.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rosemary Allen permalink
    July 27, 2010 12:39 pm

    I know! the insect life is amazing. There are so many different dragonflies now. Have you ever witnessed one devouring a butterfly? It seems that when our butterflies numbers are down the dragonfly count is up.

  2. July 30, 2010 10:00 am

    Haven’t seen dragonfly vs butterfly. Not much of a contest there! But lately I have seen several dragonflies that have crashed and burned and are being devoured by a mound of ants. very cool.

  3. Susan permalink
    July 30, 2010 12:35 pm

    Okay, so I went looking for this species because I saw these dragonflies in Flagler County last week while house sitting for a friend. I thought they were interesting to view because I have not seen them where I live in Highlands County. I am hoping that I am correct on this and that this is a Yellow-sided Skimmer (Libellula flavida).

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