Early Odonata

by Carl Strang

We’re barely into June, and already there has been some remarkable dragonfly and damselfly action at Mayslake Forest Preserve. In a previous post I showed early reproductive activity by common spreadwings. Two more spreadwing species appeared before the end of May: slender spreadwing, which I had found on the preserve before, and a new one, the swamp spreadwing.

Many individuals of all three species have emerged from the stream corridor marsh.

Back on May 4 I saw this four-spotted skimmer.

I’m pretty sure I have never seen one so early in the season. I’ll finish with a UFO shot (unidentified flying Odonata). On May 26 I saw two tandem pairs and a single, all saddlebags of one of the red-bodied species, over the stream corridor marsh. One of the pairs I saw laying eggs. They were staying too far out for me to see clearly, so I resorted to the UFO technique.

I am leaning toward Carolina saddlebags rather than red saddlebags. The insects’ bodies were bright red rather than dull red, it still is fairly early in the season when Carolinas are more common, and there appears to be a lot of black on the abdomen tip in the photo. There was no chance of seeing the definitive forehead color, however, so I’m not willing to call the identification certain.

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