Dragonflies ... where have they gone ?

Nov 26, 2019
6
2
35
I have always been an observer of Nature ... all aspects. In 2008, after being given a small Olympus 6000 camera, and while mowing the lawn, I had the good fortune to photograph a Dragonfly up close. Not content with the photograph alone, I had to know what species, and any/all information relating to them. That began a yearly hunt for all 100 + species in New England. For the first few years I encountered (in Ma.) fields and pond edges, etc. with hundreds, in some instances thousands, of Dragons of various species. Then, a few years ago those numbers began to shrink. Not just during a portion of their season, but throughout their yearly life span [~ April to Nov]. The past three years they have all but disappeared. In the field where I routinely saw hundreds and at times far more ... this year during prime time and weather I found a total (!) of ... six. No species of Dragon appears to be unaffected. I cannot see that it's weather related ... not across an entire season. Rather, I suspect their forage base has collapsed. In watching for e.g. midges and even mosquitos the past two years I've seen very (!) few. Has anyone else seen this rapid and dramatic decline in Dragon numbers ... and, are there other potential explanations ? I'd be interested to hear them. Thanks, Q.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sward

sward

Administrator
Staff member
Nov 19, 2019
49
19
55
Gosh I can't remember the last time I saw a dragonfly, their must be a center that tracks species like that?
 
Mar 4, 2020
147
14
105
Try to find different sources of aerial and/or sat images of the area and the time frames of concern.

You will probably be surprised. Tadpoles, frogs and salamanders should be inventoried too. Try to notice the entire environment for understanding. The water flow and drainage. And close by landfills and savage/recycle yards.
 

LCarlson

Administrator
Nov 12, 2019
81
44
80
I don't see as many here in California as I did when I lived in Canada, but I do see Dragonflies here in summer. Lovely, efficient, beautifully designed creatures!

Even here where it is generally warm, this time of year (March) they are in the larval stage, in water, and less likely to be flying around. Further north they haven't even hatched yet.
I should wander down to the local slough and see what sorts of juvenile critters are bouncing around (lots of tiny frog eggs when I was there last week).

~LC
 
Nov 26, 2019
6
2
35
Hayseed - Your comments are valid, of course. The significant (alarming) decline in the Dragonflies population has been evident in all of the different species emergence times here. We typically see the first emergers in April, and then every few weeks there is another 'species batch' that emerges ... right into November. My concern is that this is not isolated to one pond/lake/basin, etc. Rather, it is across the region, wherever and whenever I've gone out.
Indeed, I also see (in most locations) fewer frogs ... or none. Salamanders in the past frequently encountered, now a rarity.
Somethings definitely afoot in my region ...
 
  • Like
Reactions: LCarlson
Mar 6, 2020
70
16
55
Pollution perhaps? Dragonflies lay their eggs in the water. If the water is polluted, maybe it could affect the health of the dragonflies.
 
Nov 26, 2019
6
2
35
JeetsN123,
A valid thought, however I might expect that if it were one or two different locations. Unfortunately, and inexplicably it is quite literally every water body and/or usual Dragon haunt I visit, over the entire region. That, I think, suggests it cannot be 'pollution' as typically defined. The first species of Dragons will begin emerging in just a few short weeks now ... it will be something I plan to watch closely. Thanks for your comment. Q.
 
Mar 23, 2020
26
3
55
Please come visit here in Eastern NC. Lots of dragonflies....AND mosquitoes! Water sources and forage abound. They seem to like it and will even sometimes perch on the cat. Yes, I'm serious. There are, however, a dearth of toads. Nice to see y'all notice, too.
 
Nov 26, 2019
6
2
35
RubyLee,
Nice to know about the Dragons there. I have heard there's still solid populations 'further south' of us. Though, I've also heard it's not the same way moving further west of us. Makes me wonder even more why the absence in my region. As for Toads ... I've noticed far fewer of those of any size also ... though interestingly, last year I saw quite a few very small 3/8ths to 1/2 inch size toads. No answer for why ...
 
Mar 23, 2020
26
3
55
Well, Q, a little farther west of me in the Piedmont of NC, there seem to be toads and dragonflies. It's a little early yet, though I've expected with it being warmer, they might be out early like everything else. I did put out a small children's pool for a water source for the birds and other denizens of my yard. I had to put one of those BT (B. thurengensis...did I spell that right?) donuts in the pool and a piece in the birdbath to keep the mosquitoes down to a dull roar. I think there are plenty other critters to feed the dragonflies. And the hummingbirds eat small insects and spiders as well.
I have the pool for my two feral (but spayed and neutered) cats and my neighbors goats to drink out of. The deer have a bucket under the faucet out back. I drink from a puddle in the drive. The wildlife took a vote and decided.
 
Nov 26, 2019
6
2
35
LOL !!!!!! "I drink from a puddle in the drive. The wildlife took a vote and decided."
I needed that levity ! Thanks !
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY