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July 15, 2019

I have no clue what kind of insect this is, but sure was worth taking a picture of it.

Our first granddaughter is married off.

Things went surprisingly well.

We had a couple day reprieve from the heat and humidity, now it is back to reality, once again.

No rain, I knew this would happen.

Spring floods and now hot and dry.

Too uncomfortable outside to get much done.

Pet owners, please keep an eye on your fur kids in this heat.

Always make sure there is plenty of fresh water for pets and live stock.

It's the middle of July already .... where does time go?

The joys of this time of year are every where.

I have more birds than I can recall having in recent springs/summers.

Yes the feeders get used.

The real attraction however, is all of the plant growth.

Mostly native plants that provide food, insects, and such.

Also the more natural look provides cover and protection for many fledged birds.

They may not nest in my yard, but the parents know where to bring them once they fledge.

I suppose that is a bit of a tribute to our efforts.

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

Juvenile orioles are becoming regulars, as some are still fed by the parents.

These two juveniles are on their own, it seems.

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

Fewer hummer visits so far this summer.

Walks also bring sights and sounds I would otherwise miss.

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

Birds that were familiar sights and sounds growing up, but have all but disappeared in some parts due to loss of habitat and invasive species like House sparrows and European starlings.

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

Birds need the protein insects provide to feed a hungry family.

Milkweeds are budding and I've seen a couple of Monarchs, so that is a good thing.

Do you have Monarchs right now?

Dragonflies and Damselflies are popping up around here too.

Speaking of which,


'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 abdomen 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, king birds, 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).

Also they prey on 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 a biological equilibrium.

(Sleeping Sophie, down below is Brandy and Snickers. Notice the little toy with snick, snick. That is her baby.)

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 lake shore 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.

God Bless.

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

Swedish Proverb

Don't you get joy from a proverb that hit it out of the park?

From God's word.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn".

Romans 12:15

"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.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

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

Gardening For Wildlife.

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