News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron Children's Hospital

Greater Akron Chamber

Metro RTA


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment




Exploradio - Dragons and Damsels
Summer is the season of dragonflies and damselflies, and a local guidebook opens up the world of these ancient insects to new discovery.
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
A damselfly, the smaller relatives of dragonflies, peers over a leaf. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has produced a detailed local field guide to these ancient predators.
Courtesy of timitalia, CC, wikicommons
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Originally broadcast 8/01/2011:

Where there’s water, you’ll find dragonflies.  They lived long before the dinosaurs, when they cruised primordial swamps on three-foot wingspans.

Today 140 types of dragonfly, and their smaller cousins the damselflies, hunt mosquitoes in the backyards, rivers, and ponds of Northeast Ohio.

On this week’s Exploradio WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair hunts them with naturalist Larry Rosche. He’s co-author of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s guide to dragons and damsels.

Exploradio - Dragons and damsels

Other options:
MP3 Download (3:39)


Watching dragonflies from the outfield
It’s a calm summer afternoon on the Cuyahoga River near downtown Kent.  Museum naturalist Larry Rosche is by the water, observing the actions of a brilliant black and green insect, a damselfly.  Rosche is patient.  He says the female ebony jewelwing has perched on a stick for an hour, depositing one egg at a time on a wet spot in the wood.  He notes that when the water rises and the branch dips in, "the eggs come out.”

Rosche's powers of observation have been honed over a lifetime. He says he developed his love of nature on the ball field as an outfielder with plenty of time on his hands… “When there’s a good pitcher, what are you going to do but look around?"  

Rosche first learned bird identification, and later worked on the famous Peterson guide books, developing distribution maps not just for bird species but for butterflies, reptiles, and trees. 

Then came a fascination with dragonflies, like the small red and gold one basking on a leaf… It's an American rubyspot. 

Pondhawks, dashers, and darners.
 
Rosche says he soon discovered the same thrill watching flying insects that he had from feathered flyers, as we watch a common amberwing search for the proper spot to lay its eggs. He says, "It just never gets old for me.”

Dragonflies, according to Rosche are named pretty well. He says dragonflies don’t have, "the funny names like the birds do."

He lists a few of the well-named winged predators, like the Eastern pondhawk which, "eats everything."  Then there are dashers and meadowhawks, and amberwings - named after their honey-gold wings.

Young dragonflies, called nymphs, are aquatic hunters, but Rosche says they do best in fishless ponds because the nymphs occasionally become food. 

Naming bugs on the fly
Rosche suddenly picks up his binoculars, and calls out the name of a grayish dragonfly skimming across the water. It's a fawn darner. Rosche says experience allows him to identify what to the untrained eye is just a winged blur.

Dragonfly spotting is a hobby Rosche wants more people to take up. He and collaborators Judy Semroc and Linda Gilbert worked for nearly a decade to produce a detailed guidebook to Northeast Ohio’s dragon- and damselflies, so that others can begin to learn the 140 species that live here.

Rosche says one of his favorites is also one of the rarest, the river jewelwing.  It’s on the endangered species list, and Rosche estimates there’s probably only 20 river jewelwings in all of Ohio.

It’s Rosche’s, and the other museum naturalists’ job to monitor the fragile habitats of rare animals like the river jewelwing.

The green darner and one way migrations 
But even common dragonflies can fascinate.  One of the biggest, and most widespread is the impressive green darner, harmless to humans, but lethal to mosquitoes.

Rosche relishes watching the impressive green darner munch mosquitoes on summer evenings - "They fly real close to you; you can actually hear them go by you…”

Rosche says Green darners and many of the larger dragonflies are migratory.

“They’ve actually tagged them with electric, little radio things. On the East Coast, they’ve done a study and they can travel up to 110 miles in a single day.”

The life, death and ephemeral beauty of these insects is a source of inspiration for Rosche.

He calls the one-way migration of these insects, "noble."

Larry Rosche is co-author of “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio”, a guidebook published by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

(Click image for larger view.)


Related Links & Resources
Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources dragonfly guide

Listener Comments:

So interesting!


Posted by: Anonymous on August 1, 2011 9:08AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Three exonerated of murder convictions from 18 years ago
Thanks heavens that none of them have been condemned to death. This alons should convince the USA to join the civilized world by abolishing the death penalty. E...

Kombucha: a sweet business brewed with fermented tea
Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is a plant. I have one growing in my sunroom. The leaves are dried and added to teas. It's harvested commercially and...

Bringing back ballet in Cleveland
I do think Ballet in Cleveland is doing good things, but the fact that director says "When we have flourishing companies like the New York City Ballet and the A...

Report confirms some Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange
was in nam 1969 exposed va stated lost medical records was in lawsuit from 197? till settled 0 $ 2010 ? said all nam vets will get back disability till 198? jus...

Mentorship grant program redefines "faith-based" provision
Can't anyone have values, beliefs, and morals anymore? How is it anymore unconstitutional for a school partner with a "faith-based" organization than any other ...

Exploradio: The challenge of finding a healthy balance with technology
Thank you, Jeff, for another well done Exploradio. I always learn something interesting about what is happening in NE Ohio.

Northeast Ohio's transgender community rallies around restroom issue
A good first step would be for Cleveland to require restaurants to have a public restroom. Cleveland is the only city I've ever been in where restaurants somet...

Vapor shops say tobacco tax hikes could hit them hard
Maybe you should be DOING a study, since every time you've tried to villianize them all that's happened was the opposite. I'm not a fan of alcohol that's flavor...

New law gives access to birth records to Ohio adoptees
Can siblings also look for their missing brother or sister? And how do we go about it?

Ida McKinley's tiara comes home, with the help of "Pawn Stars"
I donated to the fund to keep the tiara at the museum where I believe it belongs. I took my 16 year old granddaughter to the showing I dont think it will be som...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University