COLUMBUS — Often overlooked, adult dragonflies and damselflies are aerial predators of mosquitoes and other bugs. They are also ferocious predators in their aquatic larval form. Dragonflies and damselflies are also a great snack for birds and are part of a healthy, functioning ecosystem. Historically, 167 species of dragonflies and damselflies have been reported in Ohio, but several of these have not been seen in decades. Of the many species of dragonflies and damselflies found in Ohio, 23 are listed as State Endangered or Threatened, with the Hine’s Emerald (Somatochlora hineana) as our only Federally endangered species. These are species that are at risk of being extirpated (lost from the state) or in the case of Hine’s Emerald, going extinct.
The Ohio Dragonfly Survey is a group of citizen science volunteers trying to document the current abundance and species richness of these cool flying acrobats and we need your help! The survey is set to run from 2017-2019, and all contributions are greatly appreciated.
There are two main ways to contribute to the survey: 1. photo submissions via iNaturalist.org, or 2. physical collection of specimens that can be archived in a museum.
By either submitting photos or specimens to the survey, you are helping us document the current distribution of species and understand which species are rare, potentially threatened, or new to the region. Identification skills are not required to help with the survey, but there will be several workshops across the state covering identification, biology, and photography. Odo-Con-18 is our largest conference this year held at the Oakwoods Nature Preserve in Findlay, Ohio on June 22-24. Odo-Con-18 includes expert guided field trips and presentations for those of all skill levels. Registration can be found on the Ohio Dragonfly Survey website. Our website also lists many smaller upcoming events, so check to see when new workshops are added. If you do not see an event nearby or are unable to attend, feel free to reach out to the State Coordinator (MaLisa Spring) and your Regional Coordinator to organize another workshop in your area.
Several counties that have very few species reported, perhaps partly due to limited sample effort. These are areas that you are more likely to get a county record and be known as the first to find X species in that county. The counties with the lowest reported species richness are Fayette (32), Clinton (34), Sandusky (35), Henry (37), Crawford (38), Noble (38), Preble (38), Seneca (38), Wyandot (38), and Van Wert (38). For comparison, the counties with the highest species richness are Williams (112), Lake (109), Geauga (108), Portage (108), and Summit (108). These counties were well surveyed by dragonfly enthusiasts decades ago, but species ranges are shifting. Many of these species have not been seen in several years. Perhaps you could be the first to spot a species in several decades?
Every county in Ohio is important, and we want records from everywhere! In her first summer, MaLisa Spring obtained six new county records in Muskingum county, and documented species that have not been seen in decades. Similarly, Rick Nirschl found a new state and county record in his first year and has subsequently documented over 15 county records in Lucas County. In Morgan County, Diane P. Brooks found a State Endangered species, the Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti)! This small damselfly is only found in areas with large patches of lilypads and easily goes undetected. Similarly, Christine Tackett found a small damselfly while visiting a garden center near Akron, Ohio, snapped a photo, and submitted it to iNaturalist.org. Unbeknownst to her, it was a Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii), which is normally found south of Tennessee. This specimen likely hitched a ride with the garden trade, but it is still an awesome find! You can make a similar difference in our knowledge of your region in just a few trips out to your local wetlands. Many species are habitat specific. Visit a variety of habitats including ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, seeps, and fens to find the most species near you.
The Ohio Dragonfly Survey is a three year survey that is funded through the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership, a collaboration between The Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. By documenting the dragonflies and damselflies in your area, we will have a better understanding of current distributions and will have more accurate maps for the upcoming all Ohio field guide.
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