Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dragonfly Season

Weedy mats float at the edge of the lake, heralding the season for dragon and damselflies to lay their eggs. They normally blanket these floating weeds with their bubble-like egg clutches.
The larvae cycle of the damsel and dragonflies includes two or three years of living in the water as some of the ugliest bugs I’ve ever seen.  Then they crawl out the water and right out of their skin! 
A dragonfly exoskeleton
Well, it’s really an exoskeleton. They uncurl their needle-thin bodies and, similarly to butterflies, unfurl their wings to dry in the sun. Then follows a few frantic summer weeks of consuming mosquitoes, mating and laying eggs and dying.
In previous years, I’ve found dozens of the empty exoskeletons clinging to the edge of the dock. This year, there’s only one, and fewer of these jewel-like insects—less than a dozen of two varieties of damselflies and only three or four dragonflies flitting about.
I know that when an area is polluted, the first to leave are the dragon and damselflies. But that is not the problem here, nor can I blame Monsanto for this dearth, as I do for the diminishing monarch butterflies. A recent report assured us that the lake is pristine and protected. It is home to ducks, geese, swans, heron, frogs, snapping turtles, snails and muskrats, and a variety of fish as well as damselflies and dragonflies.
So what could be the explanation for the shortage of our gorgeous mosquito-eaters? 
Damselfly - image from Google

I blame the fish. The lake is seeded with bass, catfish and others and is home to an abundance of sunnies. They need to eat too. There are a couple of fishermen who take the sport seriously—but very few others around the lake actually fish. I may have to start fishing and encourage neighbors to do the same, for the sake of keeping the environment balanced for dragonflies. 

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