Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Dragonfly Love

We didn't make it out to the garden yesterday because our household seems to be stricken with the back-to-school bubonic plague. I actually laid in bed last night imagining hoards of hornworms stripping my tomato plants clean and then playing volleyball with my new baby tomato. Then I had a dream that I planted barley as a trap crop (I really plan on doing this with millet for other garden bugs) and when I went out and looked at the barley it was covered in hundreds of walking sticks. So we're not only physically sick, but I'm dreaming about bugs in the garden so I'm officially sick in the head.

So I thought I'd post a couple of pics of my new garden friends. Farmer B wandered out into the yard the other day and caught me photographing them and talking to them. "Hello little blue one - who is that stripey one chasing you?" he caught me saying. I had one of those moments where you realize you just looked like a complete freak and the look on Farmer B's face confirmed it. I won't write what he said, but it was something about me being in-freaking-sane and needing some human friends.
(Look at the little hairs on his back)

Because I have an insatiable desire for knowledge, I learned that most of the dragonflies we get in the garden are types of skimmers. The males are usually the pretty ones and the females are usually the brown ones. I've mentioned on here a few times how great dragonflies are for mosquito and gnat removal, so they are my new best friends.
(Their eyes and heads are quite expressive in an odd way)

I also learned that out of about 5,700 known species of dragonflies, as many as 50 species fly to warmer places for the winter, just like migrating birds do. Unlike birds, however, dragonflies appear to migrate in only one direction. Mom and dad may migrate south for the winter, but it's the next generation that probably makes the return trip.
(I am fascinated by this one's back and how the wings seem to 'attach' to the body)

To confirm that certain dragonflies migrate, a researcher used eyelash adhesive to attach tiny radio transmitters to individual insects. Even though the devices were very small, they still weighed about one-third as much as an adult dragonfly. Luckily, dragonflies can carry heavy loads. In their experiment, the team used an airplane to track 14 dragonflies carrying transmitters. Twelve days of observations confirmed that the dragonflies did migrate.

When temperatures dropped two nights in a row, the researchers found, the dragonflies took off southward. In less than 2 weeks, some of the insects covered about 60 kilometers (37 miles). Some dragonflies go even farther and have been known to show up on ships hundreds of miles out at sea.

So there you go - another dragonfly tip of the day. More than you ever wanted to know.

1 comment:

engineeredgarden said...

The hornworm, volleyball comment was funny stuff. I enjoy visiting your blog.

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