Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dragonflies and Damselflies

After going to the events at Hornsby Bend a few weeks ago, I decided to look up the classes offered by the Travis County Audubon Society. When I saw the dragonfly identification class, I was very interested. While I have not taken a lot of dragonfly photos, I knew that I needed more skills to identify the ones I had taken. And a simple insect identification book is really pretty useless - SOOOOOOOO many insects! Plus I did not know the first thing about the differences between dragonflies, damselflies, darners, skimmers, etc.

While I learned many things tonight, identifying the first set of my shots -sigh . . . we'll cover those Saturday (I think) At least I know they are males . . . . I did not buy the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas book because I wanted to see which dragonfly book I already had. Lesson in frustration to come home and not be able to identify the first one you try . . . .

But back to what I DID learn. Dragonflies are fierce predators. I have only seen them flying around my yard and perched various places. But we got to see a dragonfly larvae catch and eat a small fish! They normally eat mosquitoes and biting flies! (That means we should LIKE them.) There are a few instances of them being able to eat a small hummingbird, but that is rare.

We went over basic physiology and reproduction. And then came the identification. It was WONDERFUL. He went through slide after slide and told us what to look for in each identification (hence why I was so frustrated when I couldn't identify the two I tried tonight-but it will be better when I have the book!)

I had gone through and pulled all my dragonfly shots into one area on the computer before the class. I was not too impressed, these were taken a couple of years ago. Most of them I had not worked. But after having seen his shots (and his were great), some of mine are better than I thought.

And the teacher of the class John C. Abbott- the writer of the definitive book on Texas dragonflies, a world expert and a professor at UT whose specialty is dragonflies! What a privilege!

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