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June 22, 2009

Thank you for the many Fathers Day wishes.

It was an enjoyable day.

Dads and ladies, I hope your weekend was well also.

With all the Dads Day talk, summer managed to slide in almost un-noticed.

Yes, Fathers Day and the Summer solstice where both on Sunday.

(Can you see the stuffed cheecked chipmunk? I thought that was a classic pose when I snapped that shot.)

As if waiting for the proper day, summer weather also arrived this past weekend.

Instant summer.

Several days of 80+ degree days and air that you can wear.

I know, it isn't the triple diget stuff my friends in the south have, but they are tough and can keep it.

No sharing that.

Thunderstorms, (yes, we finally had some here) nothing to serious where I live, but they were around.

Followed up by more 80+ degree days.

I can almost hear the veggies growing as they scream with joy.

Yes, many a northern garden is a few weeks behind.

If it wasn't to cold to plant in may, it was to cool to grow or to wet to do much of anything at times.

Okay, I must admit this....................

I enjoyed having a spring that was more like a spring.

Spring flowers lasted longer.

Warm days and cool nights.

No AC until this weekend.

Okay, now that summer is here, let it be summer.

The water will still be to cold, but Karen is talking about hitting the beach (Lake Michigan) sometime this week.

This past Thursday a few minutes before sunset, I was setting on the deck, I heard and then watched the commotion in a maple tree.

Up goes a Cooper's hawk.

Sparrows and other birds take off.

Out comes Cooper's and one swift move snatches in mid air and takes off towards the wood.

Not more then 10 minutes later, it is back into my neighbor's crabtree.

Same scenario, but this time I get a bird's eye view of the snatch and take off.

Right in mid air,

In mid wing beat.

And off to the woods once again.

Pure nature, happening so fast.

What are the chances of seeing back to back raids being successful?

Well, the dad-gum squirrels have arrived.

We have to deal with squirrels like most of you, but it's when mom brings the family.

This year, it is 2 moms.

One has 4 offspring.

The other has 2 youngsters.

I can deal one or two thieves, but not a small army of them.

Baffles on the shepherd hooks and the 'Mandarin Sky Cafe' (pictured in the tree) keep squirrels from the seed feeders.

The hanging suet and peanut feeders are in different locations hanging from the trees where we can enjot the view.

When all the squirrels are around, I have to remove these feeders or let the tree rodents have their way.

I suppose I will relocate them for now, but isn't one of the main reasons we feed birds is to enjoy watching them?

Where are the hawks when I really want and need them :-)

The joys of this time of year are every where.

I have more birds than I can recall having in recent springs/summers and my feeding bill will show that to be true.

As territoirial as many species are, I will have multiples of a given species at one time.

Several cardinals are around, even with the domonant male, others manage to sneak in.

More hummingbird sightings during the day and that's always good news.

Walks in the fields and woods bring sights and sounds I would otherwise miss.

Still, I miss the Bob-white quail, Red-headed woodpeckers and Eastern meadowlarks.

Birds that were familiar sights and sounds growing up, but have all but disappeared in some parts due to loss of habitat.

Walks also offer Keet (Akita one of the fur kids) a chance to sniff around and almost surprise a bunny now and then.

More insect life is visible and not just the skeeters (which are every where).

Milkweeds are budding, so I hope to see Monarchs soon.

Do you have Monarchs right now?

Dragonflies and Damselflies are popping up around here too.

Speaking of which,

This week's topic is on Dragonflies and Damselflies.


'Devil's darning needle', 'Mosquito hawk', 'snake doctor', are some of the more colorful local names that refer to these spectacular insects.

As a child, I would hear how dragonflies would sew your mouth shut and bite you.

They were an insect to leave alone.

Despite a widespread belief that dragonflies sting, they do not.

They have no means of stinging and are completely harmless to man.

In fact, studies indicate they are one of our most beneficial insects.


Dragonflies and Damselflies, a closely related group, belong to the order Odonata.

They have large compound eyes, short, bristle-like antennae, and four elongate membranous wings.

Some species have transparent, colorless or somber-hued wings; others have brilliantly colored ones blue, green, purple, white, or bronze.

Still others may have conspicuous mottling or spotting on the wings.

Not only the dragonflies wings, but their bodies may be brightly colored as well.

Damselflies are easily distinguished in the field by their more delicate features and the vertical position of the wings over the abdomen when at rest.

Furthermore, the hind wing of the damselfly is essentially similar to the forewing, while the hind wing of the dragonfly broadens near the base, caudal to the connecting point at the body.

Damselflies are also usually smaller, weaker fliers than dragonflies, and their eyes are separated.

Dragonflies are more robust in structure, strong fliers, and hold their wings in a horizontal position when resting.

They are master aerialists, capable of swift flight, of a backward as well as a forward darting movement, and of hovering

Of the approximately 5,000 species of Odonata in the world, over 360 species of dragonflies occur in the United States and Canada.

Present day dragonflies in the United States range in wingspread from 1 1/4 inches(32mm) to almost 5 inches (127mm).

An extinct dragonfly, Meganeura monyi, known only from fossil beds, had a wingspread of about 2 1/2 feet (762mm).

Now that is one big insect.

Life Cycle:

Dragonfly mating logistics seem to me one of the more ridiculous contrivances in the animal kingdom.

Dragonflies are unique in the insect world in that the male possess a set of secondary reproductive organs on the abdomin segments as well as his primary apparatus on the at the end of his abdomen.

Before mating can occur, the male dragonfly must charge his secondary copulatory apparatus with sperm from his primary copulatory apparatus.

Mating commences with the male grasping the female with his abdominal claspers.

The pair then assume the wheel position with the tip of the females abdomen and thus her reproductive apparatus engaging the males secondary copulatory apparatus.

The male first uses his penis to remove any sperm left by a previous male before inseminating her himself.

Copulation can take from several minutes to several hours depending on species.

The male stays in tandem with the female in many species while she lays her eggs.

In those species which lay endophytically some lay below the water line, and in some cases both the male and the female may become fully submerged.

In other species the male stays close to the female guarding her while she lays.

In those strongly territorial species the male may be satisfied by continuing to expel all other males from his territory allowing the female to lay within the territory at her leisure.

In early spring the eggs may be deposited in floating masses of plant debris (dragonfly eggs to your right).

The female green darner, unlike many other species, has an ovipositor that it uses to insert eggs into the stems of aquatic plants.

During the growing season it deposits yellowish, 1mm-long eggs into a double row of slits along a plant stem beneath the surface of the water.

After about three weeks the young emerge and live underwater, voraciously feeding on small aquatic animals like tadpoles, little fish, mosquito larvae and just about anything it can get a hold of.

Many successive molts take place over a period of eleven months before the final nymphal stage is reached.

The mature nymph crawls out of the water onto a rock or plant stem during the night or early morning hours.

The nymphal skin splits dorsally and the winged adult pulls itself out to become fully expanded in about half an hour.

However, it is several days before it reaches its peak flight capacity.

Predator and Prey:

Dragonflies have excellent eyesight.

The large, hemispherical compound eyes are used in searching for small air-borne insects.

Each eye is composed of nearly 30,000 distinct sight elements called ommatidia.

Each of which is a separate light-sensing organ , arranged to give nearly a 360 field of vision.

The dragonfly positions its six legs in a basket-like manner literally to scoop its prey out of the air.

The two front legs hold the prey in position so that it may be eaten while in flight.

Dragonflies, in turn, may be food for swifts, swallows, purple martins, kingbirds, frogs and other dragonflies.

It is usually attacked when it is basically immobile, during and shortly after transformation from the nymphal stage to the adult.

Although dragonflies tend to feed indiscriminately, as a group they serve an important ecological function in aquatic and aerial habitats.

The nymphs are an important part of the food chain from many species of fish and, eventually, for other top predators, including man.


Perhaps more important to man is the role of the adult dragonfly in helping to check population levels of those insects such as mosquitoes (which transmit diseases such as Encephalitis, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue, West Nile Virus and Dog Heartworm), and horseflies and deerflies, which transmit Anthrax and Tularemia.

Dragonflies also help to control other biting flies such as black flies, sand flies, punkies (.no-see-ums.), midges, eye gnats, and stable flies.

Only one species of dragonfly, the bee butcher (Coryphaeschna ingens), is known to be an economic pest.

In the southeastern United States it feeds on honeybees as they fly to and from their hives.

Predator animals were once poorly understood and considered to be man's enemies because of their habit of preying.

Scientists have shown they are necessary for abiological equilibrium.

Dragonflies are not the complete answer to controlling certain kinds of insect pests, they are one of God's many sources to help reduce the population levels and to become food for other living creatures.

A small part of nature's life cycle.

Dragonflies have also been used as indicator species for assessing habitat and water quality in a variety of wetlands, riparian forests, and lakeshore habitats around the world.

Friend or foe?

The choice is clear.

Well, that's it for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

"Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow".

Swedish proverb

Isn't this an interesting thought?

How can this be, you may ask?

But, it's true.

In many ways, our Creator made us unique from the rest of his handy work, and the ability to share joy and sorrow is one of them.

When we share our joy and happiness, it multiplies. Not just in new life, but when something special happens and you can't wait to share it.

Soon all that know of your joy are happy for you and the joy grows.

Much like the domino effect, happiness spreads.

Celebrations may follow the joy of a new baby, a new home, a new job, graduations, the list goes on.

When we have sorrow, it is important to share as well.

By sharing your sorrows with others, it is some what like opening a soda can that has fallen of the counter.

All of this pent up pressure is released.

You are free to cry.

Free to talk about it.

Free to need a hug and get it.

We are so special, that others can share your sorrows and pain and make it so it doesn't hurt as much right then and there.

Sometimes, just talking makes the sorrow seem less daunting.

Pressure is released.

Some people have the ability (or curse) to literally feel another person's sorrow or hurt.

Sometimes we need to listen and listen again to help in the healing.

Often, just by you being there makes the sorrow and hurt less for someone else.

Much like a sponge, we absorb shared sorrow and making it less for another.

We share our joy, why not our burdens?

Joy or sorrow, you want someone there to share it with.

Make sure you are there for someone else.

Share joy or sorrow,

You have the ability to make life grow and be more abundant.

You have the gift to make sorrow hurt just a little bit less.

Either way, you are a friend, a loved one......................

You are some one special.

You are unique.

You will be there for someone else.

Every week I share a smile with you.

When you share this joy, look how much that simple smile can grow.

Share your joy and share sorrows and be there for others that need to rejoice or need a hug.

Often in today's world we are to busy to share joy and sorrow.

We don't want to bother another person, or be bothered

It is time to get back to some very human basics we were blessed with by a Very Real Creator.

We were made in God's image.

His emotions.

His laws.

Can you go wrong?

Until next time my friend.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

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Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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