Green Darner

Green Darner Dragonfly

While working in one of the bottomland farm fields today, preparing to burn the last brush pile from the land clearing, I noticed I was surrounded by hundreds of dragonflies flitting around and feeding.  They were green darners – so named either because they look like darning needles, or because their flight path is reportedly back and forth like a knitting needle’s action – take your pick.

What I was witnessing was the annual migration of these creatures.  Surprisingly little is known about their US migration – where they are coming from and where they are going.  A research scientist in India, however, has documented them migrating there over 10,000 miles, over 4 generations, from north to south and back again to rinse and repeat.  What little is known in the US from one short-distance study is that they appear to follow the same migration patterns as songbirds – how long they fly, how long they rest, the general direction they are headed.  The dragonflies during their migration apparently depend primarily on local food sources like mosquitos and aphids.  Importantly,  the annual hawk migration follows right along with the dragonflies – the hawks apparently depend on the dragonflies for the fuel for their migration.

Otherwise, little is known about these creatures migration, which is surprising to me.  As far as I know, the only other insects that migrate like this are a few moths and butterflies (Monarchs being the most charismatic example).  Given that dragonflies are rather charismatic in themselves, and that they are voracious feeders of many insect “pests” to humans, like mosquitos, one would think they would deserve a bit more study to ensure they stay with us. Meanwhile, I’m very glad they decided that CRF was a good stopping place and feeding ground for them going from who knows where to places yet unknown.