by Carl Strang
October is not a month that comes first to mind when thinking of insects, but its first week this year has brought some new species of dragonflies and damselflies into view at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Having said that, though, I’m sure that shadow darners have been around for a while.
This one simply was the first that landed where I could get a good look at it. Those who know dragonflies associate the late part of the season with the meadowhawks (genus Sympetrum). For some reason Mayslake’s marshes don’t produce a lot of meadowhawks. I have found over the past three autumns that I can expect to see, at best, a dozen altogether. These include common species like ruby, autumn, and white-faced meadowhawks like this one.
On the other hand, for the third year in a row I have seen at least one saffron-winged meadowhawk there.
This is an uncommon species in our area, not one I would expect to see so consistently at a site. I’ll close with a species that was new not only to the Mayslake list, but new to my experience.
Spotted spreadwings are not a rare species, but I have been slow to learn about the spreadwing damselflies as a group. The spotted spreadwing is the one we are most likely to encounter in October in our area. The two black dashes on the underside of the thorax are just visible in this male and female in wheel position.