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2017 Dragonfly Workshop Wrap Up (August 5)

18 Folks find RARE dragonflies & LEARN A LOT in the process

DRAGONFLIES WORKSHOP:  Results & Photos

On August 5th, 12 Workshop participants, an intrepid crew of leaders from the Minnesota Dragonfly Society, and Sparky and Clinton explored the diversity of dragonflies and damselflies in the Sax-Zim Bog as part of the first workshop venture for Friends of Sax-Zim Bog.

The day started on the cool side (48 degrees F!), which worked out fine as the early sessions featured a couple of talks inside the Welcome Center. First, Mitch Haag presented on Nymphs and Dragonfly Biology. This was a great introduction for our first field session where got our feet wet and collected nymphs (larval dragonflies) from the Whiteface River near Kelsey. Following this session, Ami Thompson presented on her Ph.D work with Common Green Darners, a fascinating take on a very common species in the US.

The major excitement of the day, however, was a trip to the Toivola Swamp! The day had warmed up nicely to about 70 degrees F and expectations were high. We hoped to encounter Zigzag and Subarctic Darners, as well as other bog specialists. To our surprise, we encountered more than just specialist dragonflies! Clinton netted a Purplish Fritillary along the trail to the Swamp. A rare butterfly in Minnesota and a new record for Sax-Zim Bog. They are bog specialists and barely enter Minnesota at all!

While at the Toivola Swamp, we encountered our main target, Subarctic Darner, in good numbers at Sparky’s “Subarctic Pool.” While there, we got the pleasure of watching a Subarctic Darner emerging from its aquatic stage, to adulthood. A real treat for participants was getting to examine 3 species of Emeralds in the hand….Ocellated, Brush-tipped, and Delicate. The field trip also added a new county record dragonfly when Sparky netted a Black-tipped Darner!

All in all, the workshop was a big success introducing folks to all stages of dragonfly life and giving a better understanding of these fascinating insects. Folks also got a close up look at the amazing odonata biodiversity of the Sax-Zim Bog. A special thank you goes out to us for our Minnesota Dragonfly Society leaders: Ami Thompson, Mitch Haag, Curt Oien, and Kurt Mead. Without their expertise and help, this workshop wouldn’t have been possible!”

Here is our odonata species list for the day… 24 species total.

River Jewelwing
Sweetflag Spreadwing
Powdered Dancer
Stream Bluet
Hagen’s Bluet
Sedge Sprite
Canada Darner
Variable Darner
Zigzag Darner
Subarctic Darner
Black-tipped Darner
Shadow Darner
Springtime Darner (nymph)
Black-shouldered Spinyleg (nymph)
Delicate Emerald
Brush-tipped Emerald
Ocellated Emerald
Belted Whiteface
Four-spotted Skimmer
Cherry-faced Meadowhawk
White-faced Meadowhawk
Autumn Meadowhawk
Band-winged Meadowhawk
Wandering Glider


Kurt Mead speaking to the Dragonfly Workshop participants in the Sax-Zim Bog Welcome Center


Checking out some live dragonflies during the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Dragonfly Workshop Aug 5, 2017


Getting ready to head into the field


Cllinton Nienhaus, Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Head Naturalist scoops for nymphs in the Whiteface River, Sax-Zim Bog.


During the first half of the day we concentrated on larval dragonflies….We learned how to tell damselfly nymphs from dragonfly nymphs. We headed to the Whiteface River near Kelsey to try our hand at scooping and identifying.


Mitch Haag and Dragonfly Workshop participants at the Whiteface River scooping for nymphs


Nymph of one of the Jewelwing species (Calopteryx). Found in the Whiteface River.


Curt Oien scooping for dragonfly nymphs in the Whiteface River during the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Dragonfly Workshop Aug 5, 2017


Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


A first Sax-Zim Bog record of Purplish Fritillary…netted by Clinton Nienhaus. Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Ami Thompson Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Delicate Emerald male (Somatochlora franklini). Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Emerging dragonfly…possibly Subarctic Darner. Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


female Subarctic Darner (Aeshna subarctica). This rare dragonfly was one of our target species and we found several. Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Subarctic Darner male (Aeshna subarctica). Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Brush-tipped Emerald male. Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Participants at the “Subarctic Pool” in the Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


Subarctic Darner male (Aeshna subarctica). Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017


This Black-tipped Darner male (Aeshna tuberculifera) was a first official St. Louis County record! Toivola Swamp in the Sax-Zim Bog during the Dragonfly Workshop Sat. Aug 5, 2017

Kurt Mead teaching about nymph jaws during the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Dragonfly Workshop Aug 5, 2017

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