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.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

The Holden Arboretum

Knight Foundation


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

Lordstown GM plant plans to install 8,500 solar panels
How much will this solar array cost? How is it being funded, and who is really paying for it? How much real useful electricity will it actually produce in MEh p...

Local Ebola concerns cause officials to pay more attention to West Africa
I have a better idea, let's secure our borders and spend those billions of dollars on our own first.

HUD and Cuyahoga Land Bank extend a housing deal for another year
Need to sale lot, and would like to know how to contact someone to see if they may be interested in the property that sat between two lots. If you can give me...

Akron Beacon Journal details abuse claims against televangelist Angley
In the early 90's I went forth for pray. And the man was anointed by the hand of God. Just a fact I will never forget

Lawmaker questions why a million voters didn't get absentee applications
He's a damn lie! I vote n all elections. I missed 1. Haven't gotten my absentee ballot and their making it hard to get one.

Thirsty Dog Brewery warns it might have to leave Akron
Why is it the city's responsibility to find this guy a location? There are a hundred realestate companies that could help him.

Kent State sends home three after contact with second Ebola-stricken nurse
Why weren't all health workers who were around Duncan quaranteened for 21 days and tested for Ebola? That's a no-brainer. Why was Vinson allowed to travel right...

New book says Willoughby Coal is haunted...and that's good for business
Would love to see a series of books that would just thrill me. I cannot wait to visit some of the locations. And revisit some of the locations I have already vi...

Cleveland Indians to continue with 'dynamic pricing'
pricing is too high for a family as well as people like me who are on a fixed income. Bleacher seats are cheaper but concessions are rediculous.

Kasich talks about faith, drugs and education -- but never FitzGerald
The idea that you can learn more by talking to a 90 year old person than from a history book is just another example of how the GOP hates education and knowledg...

Copyright © 2014 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