Photographs by Frank

29 May 2022

Ashuelot River Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:55 PM

This afternoon I spent several hours looking for odes (dragonflies and damselflies) along the Ashuelot River in Surry, NH. I parked at the Dort Road access point and when I crossed the foot bridge I headed upstream. Although there were some folks enjoying the sun and the water near the bridge, once I walked a few yards upstream I had the river to myself .

The temperature was in the mid 70s F and the skies were mostly cloudy. I covered about three quarters of a mile of river covering both the back channels of the braided section as well as the main channel.

Joan had spent time in this area about a week ago doing a botanical survey. I was interested in this area because she said that the river was swift flowing with a rocky bottom and that she had seen many odes while looking at the flora.

Swift flowing, rocky bottom rivers are not places (ecological niches) I routinely visit. Thus, I was hoping to find species that I rarely see. I was not disappointed.

The most common ode I saw was the Aurora Damsel. They were distributed all along the section of the river I explored (both along the main channel and the back channels) wherever there were patches of grass in full sunlight. Interestingly, I saw only males.

The next most common species I saw were Superb Jewelwings, a new species for me. These were localized to two widely separated sites along the main channel. I observed between six and twelve individuals at each site. The large majority of individuals were female.

I also saw several male Eastern Forktails and three dragonflies, none of which I was able to photograph or identify. Two of the dragonflies were those frustrating types that are in more-or-less continuous flight patrolling territories along the bank of the river.

The third dragonfly I observed was a newly emerged individual on a rock in the middle of one of the secondary channels. I first noticed this individual by picking up an odd glint of light on a rock. A quick look with my binoculars confirmed that the glint was due to the shiny wings of a teneral dragonfly* and several inches away was an exuvia (the empty larval exoskeleton).

Moving cautiously, I attempted to get in position to photograph this insect. However, this was to no avail. Before I could get close enough for even an “insurance shot” for identification this individual fluttered away in typical teneral flight. Alas, I was left with only the exuvia to photograph.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Superb Jewelwing (female)
Superb Jewelwing (female)
Superb Jewelwing (female)
Superb Jewelwing (female)
Aurora Damsel (male)
Aurora Damsel (male)
Aurora Damsel (male)
Aurora Damsel (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Dragonfly Exuvia
Dragonfly Exuvia

* Odes (i.e. dragonflies and damselflies) begin life as eggs deposited in a body of water. The eggs develop into larva which grow and develop as aquatic insects. As the water warms in spring and early summer, the larva crawl from the water and the adult insect emerges from the larva. The newly emerged adult is referred to as teneral. In the teneral state (with wet wings and soft bodies) these insects are very susceptible predation. As soon as their wings are dry enough, a teneral individual flies to a more protected place to continue maturing. This teneral flight, being weak and slow, is very un-dragonfly like.

1 Comment

  1. MASTERFUL! And, you were able to add a few more species to your folder. As always these are amazing.

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 30 May 2022 @ 8:46 AM

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