Entries tagged with “dragonflies”.

DSC_3795On June 23th, Andy Rabin and Kevin Munroe led another great field trip to find and identify as many dragonflies and damselflies as they could.

The group visited Bles Park, Claude Moore Park and Willowsford.

A full list of the sightings (33 species) is below and reference of the first place they saw them during the day.

Bles Park
Claude Moore Park (CM)
Willowsford Farm (WF)

DRAGONFLIES – 23 species
Common Green Darner, Swamp Darner (WF), Unicorn Clubtail (CM), Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Lancet Clubtail (WF), Cobra Clubtail, Dragonhunter, Arrowhead Spiketail (WF), Prince Baskettail, Common Pondhawk, Spangled Skimmer, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Needham’s Skimmer, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Painted Skimmer, Great Blue Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Eastern Amberwing, Autumn Meadowhawk, Carolina Saddlebags, Black Saddlebags (CM)

DAMSELFLIES – 10 species
Ebony Jewelwing (WF), Slender Spreadwing, Blue-fronted Dancer, Variable Dancer (WF), Powdered Dancer, Blue-tipped Dancer, Stream Bluet, Citrine Forktail, Fragile Forktail (WF), Eastern Forktail

Photo by Sheryl Pollock.


Join us for a great Dragonfly Adventure and/or Become a Dragonfly Pond Watcher!

Dragonflies and Damselflies of Loudoun Field Trip ― Sunday, June 24, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Rain date Sunday, July 1), Bles Park. Join Andy Rabin and Kevin Munroe for the first of two informative days of “dragon-hunting” in one of the best dragonfly and damselfly habitats in the county. Learn how to catch, handle, identify, and release these insects. Bring an insect net if you have one (some extra nets will be provided), a hat, sunscreen, snacks, water, and binoculars. We may be walking off-trail through tall vegetation so wear appropriate protection and be prepared for muddy conditions. Adults and interested children are welcome; come for part or all day. We will stop at a restaurant for lunch but you may bring your own lunch and snacks if you prefer. Meet at Bles Park in Ashburn (for directions www.loudoun.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=924). Registration required – limit 12 participants. To register and with questions, e-mail Andy Rabin at stylurus@gmail.com.

As you learn your dragonflies, jump into this Dragonfly Pond Watch sponsored by the Xerces Society:

Dragonfly Pond Watch is a volunteer-based program
of the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) to investigate the annual movements of two major migratory dragonfly species in North America: common green darner (Anax junius) and black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). No prior experience with dragonflies is needed to participate!

By visiting the same wetland or pond site on a regular basis, participants will be able to note the arrival of migrant dragonflies moving south in the fall or north in the spring, as well as to record when the first resident adults of these species emerge in the spring.

Why monitor ponds?
Collecting seasonal information at local ponds will increase our knowledge of the timing and location of dragonfly migration across North America, and expand our understanding of the relationship between migrant and resident populations within the same species.

Who can participate?
Anyone with regular access to a large pond or wetland who has an interest in dragonflies and would like to contribute to our growing knowledge about dragonfly migration in North America.

For those new to citizen monitoring, recognizing these two species is easy to learn! Visit the photo gallery at OdonataCentral to see an array of photos of common green darner and black saddlebags.

How can I get involved?
Please visit the Pond Watch homepage for information on how to register a pond of your choice and for detailed monitoring protocol instructions.

We will provide regular feedback and reports to participants, so you can see how you are making a difference!

For more information on the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership and Xerces’ other aquatic programs, please visit our website, www.xerces.org.


This just in from Christopher S. Hobson, VA DCR – Division of Natural Heritage:

 The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation – Division of Natural Heritage (DCR-DNH), with funding from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is developing an atlas of the rare dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, skippers, and moths in the state (see below).

The final product, a series of 193 species fact sheets and county occurrence maps, will be made available to the general public, naturalists and scientists on a web site. We have two years to develop the database from field work, museum records, literature citations, and with your help and input, personal communications from area naturalists.

We would appreciate your assistance in any way, particularly with the following two tasks.
First, if you are still active in the field, we ask that you keep an eye out for the species we are interested in (see list below) and report them to us?

Second, we ask that you read through the species list and send us any records that you may already have from Virginia.

In both cases, the more information you can send (date of observation, location, numbers observed, habitat conditions, etc.) the more complete our records will be. Photographic vouchering would be appreciated if possible.

If you have any population information, for example you return to a site every year, or you make observations throughout the flight season of a particular species, that would be useful information.

Written accounts would be best and could be in the form of copies of field notes, emails, letters, photos, etc. Inclusion of maps indicating the exact location and/or latitude and longitude coordinates would be most useful.

In addition to the internet product, where county level information will be made available, the information you provide about most of these species will be added to the Virginia Natural Heritage Program’s database and used to inform conservation decisions such as our environmental review process, potential land acquisition, and management plans. If you are hesitant to reveal some locations, we can indicate that the information is ‘sensitive’ and limit access to the information.

We cannot complete this project adequately without help and input from the naturalist community. I hope you will take some time to read through the list of species and consider how you might participate in this project. Please feel free to contact me [Chris Hobson] via phone (804) 371-6202 or email Chris.Hobson@dcr.virginia.gov if you have questions, or if you have information that can be useful in completing this atlas project.


We had a lovely day for our butterfly and dragonfly walk last Saturday morning at Claude Moore Park in Sterling. With a slight breeze and upper 70s, it was perfect for not only the insects that we were looking for but also for all of us.  Twenty-two people came out for the walk and it was great to have so many kids along with us!  Being lower to the ground they’re great at spotting and helping with netting.

We started the walk at the garden in front of the visitors center and came across a number of butterflies known asclaude_moore_park_dragonfly_walk_1 skippers.  Larry Meade helped with the id as these little guys often look similar with their brown and orange colors.

We then walked along the field and caught our first dragonfly. Andy Rabin, our leader for the walk, demonstrated the right way to use a net without harming the insect and showed the group how to hold a dragonfly without hurting it’s wings.

From here we meandered over to the little garden pond behind the house.  Green frogs were calling and were very comfortable with us checking them out.  We also saw our first Wood Nymph butterfly of the day.  Normally less common, this butterfly became the most frequently spotted butterfly for us, with many regular species going unseen. We think the late spring rains have something to do with this.

claude_moore_park_dragonfly_walk_2As we walked through the field on the other side of the house, one of the kids spotted a Wandering Glider dragonfly. With Andy’s guidance, he put the net over the top of the dragonfly and it gracefully flew to the top as Andy predicted. Andy then removed it from the net. We all got to see the dragonfly close up and the kids got the experience holding a dragonfly (using the proper technique :) ). They seemed to really enjoy it!

For the finale of the walk, we headed to the ponds. While female dragonflies hang out more near fields, males are over at the ponds patrolling their territories along the pond bank. I’ll provide a full list of our species seen below.  While enjoying the dragonflies, we also spotted a Pearl Crescent butterfly which we put into a small viewing container for a few minutes for greater inspection.

All in all, a wonderful day, butterfly numbers and diversity were fewer than in the past but the dragonflies made a nice showing!

Here’s the full list of what we saw:

Dragonflies and Damselflies:Common Green Darner, Prince Baskettail, Halloween Pennant, Slaty Skimmer,Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Blue Dasher, Wandering Glider, Spot-winged Glider, Eastern Amberwing, Carolina Saddlebags, Black Saddlebags, and Familiar Bluet.

Butterflies:Spicebush Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Clouded Sulpher, Eastern-tailed Blue, Silvery Checkerspot, Pearl Crescent, Red-spotted Purple, Common Wood Nymph, Monarch, Common Sootywing, Least Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Zabulon Skipper, Dun Skipper.

If you’d like to get your fill of butterflies this season – sign up for our Loudoun County Butterfly Count!  It’s a great way to explore nature, contribute to citizen science and learn some new species of butterflies.  All experience levels are welcome.  We form teams that are led by experienced butterfliers (that’s a new word :) ) and you can participate for the full day or just park of the day.

We also have a program this Sunday, The Magic of Monarchs – you can read more about that in our July nature programs calendar. I’ll be talking about the Monarch butterfly life cycle, habitat here and in Mexico, and the amazing phenomena of their migration to Mexico. Great for all ages!


Andy Rabin led our walk at Banshee on Saturday.  Here is his report from the field:

The walk yesterday went very well. We had 9 people show up, including 2 families (3 kids). We managed to catch a few damselflies and a dragonfly and examine them closely, found a recently emerged Calico Pennant on some emergent vegetation just below it’s exuvium (shed skin), as well as some mating damselflies. It was windy, but we still manged to find 14 species, all near the pond and visitor center.

DRAGONFLIES: Common Green Darner, Calico Pennant, Common Pondhawk, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Eastern Amberwing

DAMSELFLIES: Blue-fronted Dancer, Variable Dancer, Familiar Bluet, Fragile Forktail, Eastern Forktail


We had a great walk led by Andy Rabin and Mona Miller. Eighteen people of all ages came out to spot and help identify these beautiful insects. In total, we saw 17 species of butterflies, 13 species of dragonflies and 1species of damselflies.

The highlight of the butterflies was the large number of Juniper (aka Olive) Hairstreaks that we found throughout the wildflowers and grasses. The Red Cedars present at the Park serve as the host plant for the Juniper Hairstreak so this was an indication that we might see them but we certainly didn’t expect to see as many as we did.  It was a special treat to see this uncommon butterfly.

Many thanks to the kids on the walk – they all did a great job helping spot the dragonflies and butterflies so we could take a closer look.

Here’s a listing of the species seen today:

Butterflies: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Orange Sulphur, Juniper Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak, Eastern-tailed Blue, Summer Azure, Pearl Crescent, American Lady, Common Buckeye, Red-spotted Purple, Little Wood Satyr, Silver-spotted Skipper, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Least Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Peck’s Skipper, Sachem.

Dragonflies: Prince Baskettail, Calico Pennant, Halloween Pennant, Common Pondhawk, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Wandering Glider, Spot-winged Glider, Eastern Amberwing, Black Saddlebags.

Damselflies: Fragile Forktail.

…..and one box turtle trying to stay cool in the tall grasses.


We had a great day of hunting dragons and damsels across the fine Loudoun countryside! Seven people joined us as Andy Rabin and Kevin Munroe, both real experts in dragonflies and damselflies, took us out into the field.

We started the day at 10am at Bles Park then went to Claude Moore at noon and ended the day at Kephart Bridge Landing.

In total, we had 29 species!

Dragonflies: Common Green Darner, Swamp Darner, Unicorn Clubtail, Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Prince Basketail, Umber Shadowdragon, Calico Pennant, Halloween Pennant, Common Pondhawk,Spangled Skimmer, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Spot-winger Glider, Eastern Amberwing, Autumn Meadowhawk, Black Saddlebags

Damselflies: American Rubyspot, Blue-fronted Dancer, Powdered Dancer, Blue-tipped Dancer, Dusky Dancer, Familiar Bluet, Stream Bluet, Citrine Forktail, Eastern Forktail, Southern Spreadwing

Throughout the day, we practiced our netting skills, used small containers to look at individuals that we caught, and practiced how to properly hold a dragonfly for identification and release them.  The colors and patterns of all the varied species were beautiful.

Many thanks to Andy and Kevin for sharing this with us.