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Do you know the word Odonata? I didn’t. But I recognized an opportunity to learn: it’s the scientific order of flying insects that includes both dragonflies and damselflies.
I think they are actually REALLY COOL.
They have been around for almost 300 million years! Their relatives had a wingspan of almost three feet! There are fossilized records of Odonata!
They start out in life underwater as a nymph, eating tadpoles and worms and such. Then they crawl onto land and through a metamorphosis process are flying in about a week.
Over 160 Odonata species have been observed in Wisconsin!
In general, dragonflies are fast fliers, have thicker bodies, and their wings are held flat or below when perched. Damselflies are slow fliers, have thin bodies, and their wings are held directly over their body when perched.
I photographed many Odonata this past summer, all in my neighborhood in Madison. There is a prairie nearby where many of them were darting about. They really are a delight.
AND, I self-published a book about them for youngsters (and others) who want to see what the most common species are in Wisconsin. Dan Jackson gratefully provided the photographs for the book.
Dragonflies – clockwise, starting at top left: Band-winged Meadowhawk (juvenile), Halloween Pennant (female), Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male), Eastern Amberwing (male)
I can’t pass up taking pictures of prairie plants, so here are some of those as well. From the top: Culver’s Root, Rattlesnake Master, and Gray-headed Coneflower.
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”
– Rachel Carson
From April to August this year, the blog posts here were about my recommended nature-related books.
It’s time to catch up with what happened in nature in my neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin.
Please, share your favorite nature sightings from this Spring and Summer below!
April 7th – A Mallard pair on the neighbor’s roof:
Backyard splash of color:
May 10th – THREE male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks come to the feeders! It was raining and they looked a little ragged. They eat sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and raw peanuts at feeders.
May 16th – Bird-watching near Lake Mendota during Spring migration; from the top: Magnolia Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Gray Catbird, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Last week of May – Shooting Star flower (also called Pride Of Ohio, Roosterheads, and Prairie Pointers) and Oriental poppies:
June 6th – Backyard Peony:
End of July – Nicotiana flowers and a dragonfly at the CSA garden (more on dragonflies in the next post!):
A Tawny Emporer butterfly (unusually common this year),
“Dog-day” cicada that is seen and heard every summer (The orange and black cicadas with bright red eyes are periodic, showing up every 13 or 17 years depending on the species; here in Wisconsin that will be 2024.),
and some flowers from the garden:
August 26th – first Aster!
Early September –
front and back of the Black and Yellow Argiope spider (it’s huge),
the Milkweed Tussock Moth (aka Milkweed Tiger Moth) larvae, with milkweed plants for hosts (like Monarchs),
and an Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly:
Listen to Sounds of the Forest! Upload your forest sounds here, too 🙂
About Sounds of the Forest: We are collecting the sounds of woodlands and forests from all around the world, creating a growing soundmap bringing together aural tones and textures from the world’s woodlands.
“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”
– Neil Armstrong
Good day –
The time has come. This is the last post about some of my favorite nature books. And there is no theme; there is a little bit of everything.
1 – The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating – by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Delightful, contemplative, and scientific – this short read will leave you thinking about snails for a long time.
2 – Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves – by Farley Mowat
You can’t go wrong with anything written by Farley Mowat. I enjoyed this book both for the content and the author’s writing style. It’s campy at times and that is amusing to me. You’ll have more compassion for wolves by the time you finish.
3 – Our Living Ancestors: The History and Ecology of Old-growth Forests in Wisconsin (And Where to Find Them) – by John Bates
This book is a great resource if you’re interested in old-growth forests (now and in the past) and the ecosystems they create for other living things. The first half of the book describes how Wisconsin got to this point – only about 1% of the remaining forest has never been logged – and details areas of importance. I learned so much, such as 1) Niagara Escarpment white cedar trees in Door County are up to approximately 600 years old (and possibly older), 2) Trout lilies only grow in colonies that are centuries old, and 3) Nearly 700 State Natural Areas (SNA) protect over 75 natural communities. The second half of the book details – with maps and pictures as well – the 50 best sites in Wisconsin for old-growth trees. Fantastic.
4 – Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic – by Jennifer Niven
I enjoy reading true stories of man/woman vs. the environment, and this book did not disappoint. Ada and four men spend a year on an island in the Arctic. They all undergo growth through multiple challenges, especially Ada. There’s plenty of drama, too.