Posted in Creatures

A short tale of Damsels and Dragons

Despite knowing that Gardner has many wetlands, ponds and waterways, because we don’t really see any of it from even the upper story of our home, you wouldn’t consider our home sited terribly near any of them.  Yet if you look at one map that shows various water features, there’s quite a bit in our portion of the Greater Gardner Area, especially wetlands to the south and west.

We're in that area marked
The light blue patterned bits demarcate wetlands.  We live near Greenwood Hill.

Despite spending hours checking that map during our home search, that info had settled into a dusty corner of the back of my brain while we were moving in and doing the usual sorts of settle in things.

So when I first spied these slender predators perching and whizzing about our yard last year, I was surprised.  Not that they loved the various grassy and wood perches available (as well as the clothesline which I soon found myself shooing them off of any day I did laundry), but that they were in our yard and we hadn’t even a birdbath as far as standing water to attract them.

Because I grew up surrounded by water, with abundant marsh and wetlands nearby, I honestly hadn’t even considered that we might have them as steady visitors as I always equated them to large bodies of water (in my case, the Hereford Inlet which is part of the Atlantic Ocean two blocks to the east, and Beach Creek which we just called “the bay” one block to the west).  Yet knowing how they can benefit gardens due to the insects they consume as food at all stages of their lives, I was thrilled.  I’ve felt the same before in other places we’ve lived where I happened to spy them now and then over the years as well.

The image above is one I took last year in June, and I probably saw about two dozen varieties or more over the course of the season.  I didn’t get pictures of them all (and a lot were terrible!), but I’m always delighted when I see them even though I still have much to learn to ID those which dart about here.

This year I first spotted damsels on the first of June.  These are two I saw then:

I love the neons especially.
I know neither image is that great, but still shared.

You can find oodles of info about them on the web, but here’s a Massachusetts specific guide I found online to read as well if you are curious of the sorts we might have here: A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts.

If you’d like to help monitor them here in Massachusetts, the Mass Audubon site has a place for that: Sanctuary Odonates Monitoring.

If you have any tales or images of damsels and dragons, feel free to share them or a link to them below.


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