Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's four-spotted skimmer time #phenology

Almost exactly one year ago, I took the photo immediately below. Would that all my photos turned out so well. It's a four-spotted skimmer, according to what I read and see in Dragonflies of the North Woods. It's active as a flying adult from mid-May through August and its preferred habitat is "Small boggy lakes and ponds, marshes and some very slow streams." That's where one of the dogs and I saw one earlier today as we took a walk past the boggy pond / stream up the road.

four-spotted skimmer
four-spotted skimmer
Photo by J. Harrington

I have a "thing" for dragonflies. I'm not quite sure where, when or how I got it, but I just really think they're cool. Perhaps the amount of time I've spent in ponds and marshes in my youth and what passes as adulthood for me does a lot to account for my enjoyment of fellow denizens of those locales. It may also have something to do with the fact that I've read that dragonflies eat lots of mosquitos, and a mosquito, eaten by a dragonfly, can't bite me. Furthermore, I've never, to my knowledge, been bitten by a dragonfly, plus, with only a little imagination, I can imagine a dragonfly growing up to be a real dragon. Here's some very impressive photos and facts about dragonflies. I came across it just yesterday. [UPDATE: It took some poking around the internets, but thanks to a comment from Molly Redmond, here's a link to the Bug Lady's postings on dragonflies.][UPDATE: The St. Croix River News has a wonderful recent story about Swooping St. Croix swamps for swimming dragonflies.]

late May, penstemon
late May, penstemon
Photo by J. Harrington

Our cool, damp Spring has done wonders for the local poison ivy plants [no photos]. The roadsides are full of it, more so than I recall from other years. The penstemon, on the other hand seems to be lagging a little, but it is coming along. I finally noticed a milkweed plant that had sprouted, but no signs of monarchs yet.

here's the milkweed, where's the monarchs?
here's the milkweed, where's the monarchs?
Photo by J. Harrington

After a very promising early start, this Spring in Minnesota has shaped up as fairly typical or worse. For too much of it, if it wasn't cool, it was wet or cool and wet. I have a growing suspicion that, sometime over the next two to three weeks, the temperatures will suddenly jump from the mid60's - low70's into the upper80's - low90's. Summer will have arrived full force once again, minus any reasonable transition. Let's see if I turn out to have prognosticated correctly.

After the Dragonflies

by W. S. Merwin  

Dragonflies were as common as sunlight
hovering in their own days
backward forward and sideways
as though they were memory
now there are grown-ups hurrying
who never saw one
and do not know what they
are not seeing
the veins in a dragonfly’s wings
were made of light
the veins in the leaves knew them
and the flowing rivers
the dragonflies came out of the color of water
knowing their own way
when we appeared in their eyes
we were strangers
they took their light with them when they went
there will be no one to remember us

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