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Old 09-25-2010, 11:33 AM   #1
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Default Swarming Dragonflies

I noticed that the dragonflies were swarming in our front yard the other day. There were about 100 of them and a nearby Phoebe was flying with them. They were catching mosquitoes. I also read that they can even catch and eat small minnows. I don't understand how they can fly so fast and not bump into one another when they are swarming.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:56 AM   #2
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It's late in the year for a dragonfly swarm. Since they can't fold their wings, they are unable to crawl into a small, protected space, and hibernate. Sometimes they will swarm and migrate, when there are a lot of them around. To my knowledge, they don't migrate very far, however.
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:55 PM   #3
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hummer Dragonfly Swarm

Thanks much erictjohnson. Maybe they were eating much before migration. This was about two weeks ago so maybe they are gone now as I haven't seen very many since then.
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Old 09-25-2010, 08:25 PM   #4
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Some species, not all, do migrate-
Dragonfly Swarms Revisited | The Dragonfly Woman

Quote:
These are effectively rivers of hundreds of thousands of dragonflies all flying in a single direction and covering large distances. These types of swarms are like bird migrations or the migrations of monarch butterflies – lots of individuals traveling together between habitats and usually made up of a single species or with one dominant species and a few other minor players. These swarms move very quickly and may appear and disappear in a matter of minutes. The dragonflies in these swarms typically follow significant waterways and fly high above the ground (20-100 feet).
Based on your description of the event, it is more likely you witnessed a static swarm.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:12 PM   #5
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Here in Madison, Wisconsin, we had a difficult summer with regard to mosquitoes in our yard. It was hard to work in the garden, or pick raspberries. And, we did see dragonflies, in small numbers, feeding on mosquitoes, in the evening. We had extra rain this summer, and that resulted in extra mosquitoes, so I guess the dragonflies ate well.
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Old 09-26-2010, 05:56 AM   #6
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According to some researchers, an Old World dragonfly species holds the record for longest migration flight by an insect - see "A remarkable dragonfly migration stretching between 14,000 and 18,000 kilometers has been discovered which spans the Indian Ocean." - 14,000km Dragonfly Migration Discovered, Longest of Any Insect – EcoLocalizer

I also have seen dragonfly 'swarms' similar to that noted by ionexchange on a hillside in North Dakota.
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Old 09-26-2010, 09:34 AM   #7
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Last edited by TheLorax; 09-26-2010 at 09:49 AM. Reason: repairing link from P1070782
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:00 AM   #8
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Wonderful video Sage.

YouTube does not permit embedding from a user's personal channel. (shrugs shoulders) I do not know why. When attempting to share videos from personal channels, we must search for the video by title. In this instance it was P1070782. Once we locate the video using the search provided by YouTube, YouTube - Broadcast Yourself., we may then use the url available from the address bar to embed. WG's software will automatically embed the video. All we need do is post that url. The url associated with YouTube's main search engine is the only url that is supported.
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:44 AM   #9
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We had a lot of dragonflies early in the summer, but I haven't seen any in about a month. Despite the drought (no rain in a month in NC constitutes a drought), we still have mosquitoes. Thanks to whomever recommended the "Dragonflies through Binoculars" book to me. I've successfully ID'd my three from photos and am hoping for more if I get my vernal pond successfully built (without fish).

Thanks for the video, Sage. It was beautiful.
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:49 PM   #10
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I came home to a swarm in early Sept and stood around trying to identify all the dragonflies I was seeing, http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...html#post77032. I’d never seen anything like that before so I did some checking and pretty much realized my swarm coincided with a motherload mosquito hatch. A week ago something similar happened again only…. not hundreds and hundreds like the last time and…. they weren’t spread all over my yard but right around my composter where I pitch kitchen scraps of fruits and vegetables and I’d just pitched about 30 banana peels from a marathon banana bread making session …. fruit flies galore and the dragonflies were going for em!!! Here’s a link I saved to my swarm file that might help you figure out what caused yours, Dragonfly Swarms | The Daily Wing. Long and short…. low to the ground swarms of multiple species and it’s probably a “static swarm” like TheLorax said…. higher up with one dominant species and it’s probably a “migratory swarm”, “So what’s happening in these swarms and why do they form? Well, basically, when they’re not having sex dragonflies spend a good portion of their day flying around, killing things and eating them. Swarms form around prey species, often small flies. Dragonflies in swarms can track and follow aggregations of prey species as they shift in location and abundance. And they can even locate food using past experience and topographical clues”. Check this out, Habitat Herald Newsletter: Migration Dragonflies, “Birders have often observed the dragonfly migration when watching Kestrels that migrate with the dragonfly swarm, snacking along the way. It’s thought that the dragonflies serve as an important food source for the Kestrels, especially for juveniles, because they are inexperienced with catching insects.” Sage> the video's GRRRRReeat!!!
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