Hello Ohio! *Sticky Post*

The Ohio Odonata Society is working with the Ohio Division of Wildlife to update the original survey that ran from 1991 – 2001. The new survey will run from 2017 through 2019 and culminate in a lay-person book on Ohio Dragonflies and Damselflies.

Goals for the second survey of Ohio dragonflies and damselflies include:

  • to identify every species known for each county.
  • to identify species introduced/established in Ohio since the original survey.
  • to determine changes in distribution and abundance, especially rare species

To participate, you can either photograph or collect specimens. No identification skills are required for photo observations and we accept observations from any date. Just take a photo and submit it to iNaturalist. Check out our Photo Collections and Physical Collections Protocols for more information.

If you are interested in meeting up with excited naturalists, check out our upcoming events post.

If you have any questions about the survey, contact:
MaLisa Spring (State Coordinatorspring.99@osu.edu),
Norm Johnson (Director of the Triplehorn Insect Collection – johnson.2@osu.edu),
Bob Glotzhober (Central Regional Coordinator – rglotz@twc.com),
Linda Gilbert (Northeastern Regional Coordinator –  lgilbert@geaugaparkdistrict.org),
Lynda Andrews (Southeastern Regional Coordinatorlandrews@fs.fed.us),
Shane Myers (Northwestern Regional Coordinator – srmyers429@gmail.com),
Jim Lemon (Southwestern Regional Coordinator – jlem@woh.rr.com)

Last, and perhaps most importantly, is our funding source. This project is largely supported through the Ohio Division of Wildlife as part of the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership. We are deeply appreciative of their help to support this research so we can better understand Ohio’s biodiversity. If you like this program, consider donating to the Ohio Division of Wildlife or to the Triplehorn Insect Collection to contribute to preserving our biodiversity.









This web-page will be updated throughout the project with more information, so be sure to check back often!  -MaLisa

If you would like to be added to the Ohio Dragonfly Survey email list to get semi-regular email updates, fill out the form below. 

Add me to ODS email list

Upcoming Events

March 24, 2018 9AM-5PM: Wildlife Symposium at Zane State College/OUZ (Zanesville, Ohio) – MaLisa Spring will be giving a talk on Dragonflies and Damselflies, but there will be many interesting talks about backyard conservation. Title: Dragons* near you: How you can help our backyard predators. Register by sending  in the 2018 Wildlife Symposium form by March 19th.

April 7th, 2018: 10AM-4PM Museum of Biological Diversity Open House (Columbus, Ohio) – Join us for the Museum Open House, the one day of the year where we let the public into all of the collection to learn more about our amazing biodiversity. Fun for all ages, the open house includes more than just arthropods and is a great day adventure to learn about birds, mussels, spiders, and so much more! MaLisa Spring will be there to talk about dragonflies and damselflies, but this is a great opportunity to learn about all of the other research happening in the Museum.

April 12, 2018: 7PM Dragons and Damsels in Distress: Where are they now? (Marietta, Ohio) – MaLisa Spring will talk about the current status of the Ohio Dragonfly Survey, how to contribute to the survey, and interesting ecology of our Odonates. This is a one hour evening presentation at Marietta Natural History Society, normally held in the Ricky Science Center of Marietta College.

April 13, 2018: Spruce Run Bioblitz in Galena, Ohio. They are looking for volunteers to engage High School students in the morning and then more families and locals in the evening. Contact Geri Granger at ggranger9556@columbus.k12.oh.us to sign up. MaLisa Spring will be volunteering to find early season Odes and also managing a moth light in the evening.

April 26 2018: 6-9:30 PM Central Ohio Training workshop (Columbus, Ohio) Join us at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus on Thursday April 26th (6-9 PM) to learn about photography, identification, ecology, and how you can help document dragonflies and damselflies. Get a chance to interact with the experts and get your burning Odonata questions answered. Speakers include Jim McCormac, Bob Glotzhober, MaLisa Spring, and Jim Lemon.

May 4, 5, and 6 2018: International Migratory Bird Day (technically the 5th) (Findlay, Ohio) Join Shane Myers at Camp Berry Boy Scout Camp to celebrate birds and the biodiversity that supports them (dragonflies and other bugs) by helping document those who call Camp Berry home. Bring you binoculars, camera, and smartphone to join in the fun! He will start at 8 AM at the cabin on Saturday and Sunday. A second group can meet at 11 AM on Saturday so you can find more dragonflies and damselflies in the midday sun.

May 17, 2018: 7PM
Robert F. Heidelberg Wildlife Conservation Lecture at the Brukner Nature Center (Troy, Ohio) – Join MaLisa Spring for a 30 minute presentation on the Ohio Dragonfly Survey and how you can help both with documentation and conservation of these cool predatory arthropods. Title: Documenting Ohio’s dragons: How you can help

May 30th, 2018: 2PM Dragonfly Hike at Brukner Nature Center (Troy, Ohio) – Join Jim Lemon and BNC staff on the trails along Stillwater River looking for early season dragons and damsels!

June 1st, 2018: Coyote Run Farm Bioblitz (Pickerington, Ohio) – Join all sorts of naturalists as they set out to document all Biodiversity on the large Coyote Run Farm. This is a great chance to share your skills and learn from the experts in the field! Sign up to attend at the Ohio Wetlands Association webpage.

Now June 2, 2018: Gorman Nature Center (Mansfield, Ohio) – Odo-Blitz and Introductory Dragonfly Talk. Join MaLisa Spring with an introductory presentation on the cool dragons and damsels found in Ohio, followed by a nature walk through the park to apply our new found skills. The 30 minute introductory presentation starts at 10 am, followed by a hike at the Gorman Nature Center. There will be a brief break for lunch and then we will go to other locations in Richland county to find more species.

Now June 3, 2018: Wood County OCVN (Bowling Green, Ohio) – 9am – 3PM blitz starting with a intro presentation followed by a field excursion. Led by Shane Myers. More info to follow.

June 7th, 2018: 10 AM – 4 PM  Schnormeier Gardens Open House (Gambier, Ohio) Meet MaLisa Spring at the Annual Open House for the Schnormeier Gardens in Knox County. MaLisa will have a table on the Ohio Dragonfly Survey and how you can help while touring the garden. Feel free to come prepared with plenty of dragonfly and damselfly questions.

June 12, 2018: Meigs Co SWCD Conservation Area evening program (Pomroy, Ohio) 5:30 PM – Join Jim McCormac, Bob Glotzhober, and MaLisa Spring for an evening dragonfly program. We will do a short introduction at the shelter house followed by a hike around the wetlands of the Conservation Area to document dragonflies and damselflies. We will also be doing excursions across Meigs county earlier in the day on both the 12th and 13th. If you are interested in participating in those smaller excursions, please contact MaLisa Spring (spring.99@osu.edu).

June 22-24, 2018: Odo-Con-18! (Findlay, Ohio) – Join us for Ohio’s biggest Odonata event where you can interact with many dragonfly and damselfly experts at once! Odo-Con-18 includes expert guided field trips,  presentations, and a chance to interact with Odonata enthusiasts from across Ohio! All are encouraged to attend. REGISTRATION REQUIRED!

June 30, 2018: Dragons* in Delaware: Let’s go find them! (Delaware, Ohio) – Join us at Deer Haven Park on Saturday (10 AM) for a 20 minute presentation on dragonflies and damselflies of Ohio followed by a hike to test your new identification skills! Bring a camera or smartphone for the hike so we can document the species we find.

July 7 and 8, 2018: Duckweed Firetail Blitz in southern Ohio. (Southern Ohio) Led by MaLisa Spring and Jim McCormac. More information forethcoming, but we are planning a small outing in Lawrence and Gallia county to try to find the Duckweed Firetail (possible new state record),  Interior Least Clubtail (possible new state record), and Uhler’s Sundragon (State Endangered Species). We are likely to find many other cool species in this weekend adventure.

July 21, 2018: 10 AM Beaver Creek Wetlands Dragonfly Walk (Dayton, Ohio). Join Jim Lemon and others at Siebenthaler Fen to learn more about cool species of dragonflies, damselflies, and the other amazing flora and fauna of this 130 acre fen. Last year, they found 20 species on the walk, including Sphagnum Sprite and Eastern Red Damsels.

July 23, 2018: 7PM Becoming a Dragon Hunter: the Ohio Dragonfly Survey (Chillicothe, Ohio) – Join MaLisa Spring  at the Scioto Valley Bird and Nature Club to learn more about dragonfly and damselfly identification, ecology, and how to participate in the Citizen Science program!

August 4, 2018: 10-2PM Bugstravanza at Walnut Woods Metro Park (Groveport, Ohio). Join Bob Glotzhober and others for a day full of buggy fun! This kids event was a hit last year with hundreds doing hands on activity and seeing bugs up close.

August 18, 2018: All About Dragons! (Wilmot, Ohio) – Join MaLisa Spring at the Wilderness Center on this Saturday to learn more about local dragonflies and damselflies. It will include an introductory presentation in the morning followed by a field excursion. Potential fee for participation. More information and registration forthcoming.

September 7, 2018: Preservation Parks Bioblitz (Delaware, Ohio) Details forthcoming

September 7, 2018: Biodiversity Conservation Symposium (Cleveland, Ohio) Details forthcoming

Want your nature event shared here? Send an email to MaLisa Spring (spring.99@osu.edu)

Survey Updates!

As the weather warms up, we are getting in gear to prepare for the new Odonata season. I wanted to do a short note to highlight a few upcoming events and other thoughts.

April 7thMuseum Open House! Join us at the Museum of Biological Diversity to learn about all of life, not just Odonata.


April 26th – We are also hosting an evening training session for Central Ohio Odonata enthusiasts on April 26th! We would love to see you for this evening workshop! No registration required.

June 22-24 – Finally, if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to sign up for Odo-Con-18! Pre-registration is required so we know how much food to order for the Saturday dinner.

For more events (and there are many), see our upcoming events page here:  https://u.osu.edu/ohioodonatasurvey/2017/12/21/upcoming-events/ 

Other updates:

  • Thank you again to all of the survey volunteers who contributed data last year. With your help, in one year we have acquired more data than the half decade of the first survey!
  • We have been going strong with outreach over the past few months. Linda Gilbert spoke bout Northeastern Odes at the Ohio Natural History Conference (ONHC) with 220 attendees. MaLisa Spring and Jim Lemon also presented a poster at ONHC. MaLisa also had the opportunity to speak at the Wildlife Diversity Conference to over 1,000 wildlife enthusiasts!
  • Various collection permits have been acquired. If you plan on collecting on behalf of the Ohio Dragonfly Survey, please get in touch with MaLisa at spring . 99 at osu . edu.
  • Our work at the Ohio EPA verifying larvae is not over. They have decades of larvae that we have not had a chance to look through, so we have several winters of potential identification left. So far, we have several new county records thanks to their regulatory work and many more to uncover as we sort through specimens they have not identified below genus. We really appreciate their cooperation and facilitation of looking through their expansive inventory. For a glimpse of what we are finding, check out the hashtag #OhioDragonfly on Twitter. 
  • Many more mini-blitzes, presentations, and other events are planned. If you would like to plan your own event, let us know and we can get materials to you.
  • The website is still being updated! County lists and species in surrounding counties are being added gradually. Right now, we are 3/5 of the way through getting the county lists up.  If you want a specific county that doesn’t have its own webpage (possibly SE and SW counties depending on when you are reading this), you can access them in the main excel file for the region. Each excel file is listed on the respective county region page beneath the coordinator description.

That is all for now. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out!

MaLisa Spring
State Coordinator

Species Flight Distribution charts (part 2)

Jim Lemon and I have been discussing the most effective and useful visuals to get people out and excited to look for dragonflies. Part of this discussion led to his guest post covering historical flight periods in Ohio. However, those were distribution charts combined for all species of dragonflies and damselflies. They gave you a general idea of the best time to find the most species, but not when x species might be flying.  Some of the animated gifs also show the changes in the early or late season flight periods, most likely dependent on weather for that year.

However, I wanted to see if we could have a standardized graph that shows quickly which groups tend to be early season versus late season fliers. Jim Lemon worked his coding magic and was able to create the below graphs for Ohio species. I eventually want to replicate these in R using Ridgeline plots in this new Data Visualization guide (fig 7.9), but I have not had time to experiment with these yet. Below is an additional guest post by Jim Lemon.

-MaLisa Spring

Seeing Relative Species Flight Distribution

We know that individual Odonates only fly for a limited time – typically a number of days to a couple weeks. A few species can be seen flying through most of the season, and so are emerging from their wetland habitat with some regularity. As we record observations, these species data can be counted and plotted against date – and compared to others.

Taking the data for specific groups – Damselflies (Zygoptera), Darners (Aeshnidae), and Skimmers (Libellulidae) – we can plot their flight frequency to see the differences.

Here you can see the average flight period of various damselflies.

If we group by genus and order by increasing numbers we can see the relative flights. Auroras, Sprites, and Red Damsels with relatively low numbers, and peaking early. Jewelwings also peaking relatively early, but in greater numbers. Rubyspots and Spreadwings coming on a little later. Forktails showing their season long records. Finally big numbers for our Bluets and Dancers.

We can also look at individual species of Bluets (Enallagma spp.) to see that there are several species that are mainly found in June (Boreal, Northern, Hagen’s, and Marsh) that are not documented later in the season. We would note that these taxa are also particularly challenging to identify and a good side profile shot of the terminal appendages is needed to differentiate them by photo.

In a similar treatment for the Darners, grouped by genus, we see some flight differences. Again, an early flight for Springtime, Cyrano, Spatterdock, and Swamp. Pretty much full season flight for the Green Darners. Then a late flight for the Spotted and Mosaics, with big numbers for the Mosaic Darners.

The family Libellulidae is a varied group, but we can at least make a flight distribution chart for most of the genera.

The Skimmers are our best represented group in terms of numbers. As a group, they are more consistent – with strong peaks in early-to-mid July. The exceptions on the early side are Whitefaces and Whitetails, on the late side with Meadowhawks and Gliders. If we take two species, Common Whitetail and Autumn Meadowhawk, and segment the data by an arbritrary time period (early years, mid years, recent years) we can get a different view.

Here, we see the early flight of the Common Whitetail and the late flight of the Autumn Meadowhawk. And while there is some variation from period to period, these flight patterns are consistent across years.

Guest post by Jim Lemon

Distribution charts made with data from the Ohio Odonata Society database current as of December 2017. Flight periods reference Ohio flight dates, so expect variation depending on your latitude.

Species Flight Distribution Charts

Guest Post by Jim Lemon

For our survey, it is important to know both where species are present, as well as when they occur. While some species are present through most of the Odonate season, many are limited to specific date periods. To this end, new species flight distribution charts have been created based on current Ohio Odonata Society data. We know these data are not complete, but we work with the information we are provided.

Compiled data from all years of the Ohio Odonata Society Database. Current as of December, 2017.

The Ohio Dragonfly flight period starts in early March and concludes in late November. For our charting, these months are divided into nearly even segments of 1st to the 10th; 11th to the 20th; 21st to month end. Note some months in our target range have 30 days, others 31.

This graph shows all compiled observations prior to 2017 and includes both observation abundances (as much as they are reported) and the number of different species reported on that date.

This graph shows all compiled observations prior to 2017 and includes the observation abundances (as much as they are reported).

This graph shows all compiled observations prior to 2017 and includes the number of different species reported on that date.

The number of recorded observations for each species in the defined periods has been tabulated and used to create the various charts. For any species, you can see the approximate range of flight as well as the periods when most commonly observed. The total number for each period is also displayed. Less common species may tend to have sparse data – but still useful.

This gif shows the change in observations by year. Some years we have many more observations (survey years). Other years you can see a change in flight period with species being observed earlier or later into the season.

This gif is a stacked bar graph which combines all observations to show the main flight period (or main observing period) of dragonflies for Ohio.

We are interested in all of your observations. Observations that document a new record of place or flight – either early or late – is of value in helping understand our Odonates.

-Jim Lemon

For part 2 of this guest post mini-series: click here.


So you want to get a county record

Fame, glory, being remembered forever on some sheet somewhere as the FIRST: that could be you, well perhaps minus the fame and glory. County records are observations that denote the first time something was found in X county. They are also a good excuse to get you out and about in a new location, a new date, or a new habitat searching to be the first. Some people enjoy the small bit of excitement of being the first at something, so if that sounds like you, then read on.

There are several ways to get a new county record. For dragonflies and damselflies, you would need to submit your data to the people compiling the yearly list of records. In our case, we accept physical specimens with proper collection information via regional coordinators. Photographic records are accepted via iNaturalist which allows incorporating location, date, and other information.

But how do I actually find county records to submit? I’m glad you asked!

There are several ways that you might encounter a new species for the county (or state).

  1. It is a really common species that we expect to be all over the state, but has not yet been reported from every county. These would be super easy county records, but might require some travel to the few remaining counties that it has not yet been reported.

    Double Striped Bluets are common across Ohio, but they haven’t been reported in two northwestern Ohio counties.

  2. Look in new habitats. Some species of dragonflies are only found in very specific habitats. Examples would be seeps, springs, bogs, or even those that have a preference to hang out in the middle of a slow moving stream yards from the bank. There are several stream species that have micro-habitat preferences where they might prefer riffles compared to runs or vise versa. If you know the taxa you want to try to get a county record, you can try to focus on that type of habitat. Alternatively, you can try to visit as many habitat and micro-habitat types to increase the overall number of species you might see.

    If you normally visit streams, then consider visiting forested ponds or vise versa. Some areas might have freshly emerged damselflies, as shown here.

  3. Know your associated species. There are also some species of dragonflies that are associated with specific plants. Rubyspots are known to lay their eggs in Water Willow, so expect to find them in locations with it growing. Another example is duckweed and the Duckeed Firetail: – duckweed is common in southern Ohio, but no one has found the Duckweed Firetail yet. If someone was to find it, they would have their hands on a State Record.

    If you find Water Willow along a stream bank, you are likely to find the American Rubyspot.

  4. Time of day is key. Most dragonflies and damselflies are out during the heat of the day in full sun. There are a few species that fly at dusk and perhaps into the night (Vesper Bluets, Orange Bluets, Shadowdragons, Sundragons, among others) that you otherwise would not see when you are normally out looking for dragonflies. Perhaps consider a nighttime adventure?

    These Vesper Bluets came out just as the sun was setting during a fishing trip. We didn’t catch many fish, but we found plenty of dusk flying species of damselflies.

  5. Try searching for odes in different seasons. Some species only fly for a very short period, thus making them harder to find and report as a county record. If you want to see a Springtime Darner, you can bet you will not find it in August. There are many species of dragonflies that emerge in the spring and will not be found after late May.


Hopefully, the above list will give you somewhere to start and incentivize searching for new species to get a record to your name. Below I have added maps of several species that would fall under category 1 above. White counties are those where the species has yet to be reported. We expect them everywhere, so let’s see if we can cover the map for these species in 2018!

To see all of our current species maps, see the Species Distributions Across Ohio tab. Also check out the annotated PDF of 2017 maps!




One final thing to note is that we do vet all species records. Although I doubt this will be a problem, we strive for correct observations. If it seems that something is fishy about an observation, or copyright infringement, we have the ability to reject observations from being county records. iNaturalist has a decent way to detect and mark observations as copyright infringement, so please do not do that. We want county records and you to be incentivized to get them, but we do not want the ugly side that occasionally comes with competitive things. I just wanted to note here for those who might be swayed by temptation.

Save the date for Odo-Con-18! June 22-24, 2018

Are you interested in learning more about dragonflies and damselflies in Ohio? Does rubbing elbows with naturalists from across the state and beyond to discuss Ohio’s biodiversity sound like a good time? Then join us June 22-24, 2018 for Odo-Con-18 in Hancock and surrounding counties! It will be based at the Oak Woods Nature Preserve with trips to other areas, but space is limited to 125 registrants. This will be Ohio’s largest Odonata-centric event and we would love for you to join us! Registration is $40 for regular attendees and a discounted rate of $15 for students.

This is a conference for beginners and advanced alike, with field trips to areas with cool odes (and birds, and leps, and bees). We will be at the Oak Woods Nature Preserve for presentations and food, with field trips in the surrounding regions. You might even get a county record in some of these areas as most of Northwestern Ohio is understudied!

Events include:

  • Expert guided field trips
  • Identification/Ecology presentations
  • Evening Poster Session*
  • Business meeting for the Ohio Odonata Society on Sunday

Tentative schedule: check back for a better schedule.
Friday June 22nd:
5 PM: Arrival/social – meet the regional coordinators
6 PM: Kick-off and awards
7 PM: Opener
8 PM: Keynote speaker – Kurt Mead (Author of Dragonflies of the North Woods)

Saturday June 23rd:
9 AM -12: Dragonfly/Damselfly presentations or local field trips (limited guides)
12 PM: Lunch on your own
1 PM-6:30 PM: Guided field trips
7 PM: Catered Dinner
8 PM: Poster session*

Sunday June 24th:
9 AM: Business meeting for Ohio Odonata Society – all are welcome and OOS membership is included in Odo-Con registration
10 AM: Depart and self guided field trips based on nearby hotspot list

*Evening poster session pending submission of titles by interested parties.

Call for Posters!
A poster session will take place on Saturday evening. Topics can include, but are not limited to species richness surveys, aquatic ecology, habitat conservation, behavior, or reproduction. Undergraduate and high school students are encouraged to present.  If you would like to contribute, please send your title and abstract (350 words max) to Shane Myers at srmyers429@gmail.com by May 15th, 2018. Please share far and wide to reach those who might be interested in a poster session. There are limited spaces available.

Poster Registration Deadline: May 15th
Conference Registration Deadline: June 5th

Field Trip information: You can select to go to a field trip on Saturday, the 23rd. You are not required to go out in the field (or attend presentations), but we recommend both to get the optimal experience. We will provide a list of on-your-own field trip locations for Sunday after the conference dismisses. This list below is for the Saturday guided field trips included in your registration. Note that most of this region is relatively understudied, so we do not have comprehensive species lists for the really cool dragonflies and damselflies that we might find at each site.

  • Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area: This 9,000 acre wildlife area has a large swath of grassland, woodland, and wetland areas for us to explore. It is a bit of a drive, but has a good variety of habitats. There is a good chance at finding several interesting species of dragonflies and damselflies here. The prairies include a host of flowering species in the summer including prairie dock, greyheaded coneflower, saw-toothed sunflower, and dense blazing star. There are also a variety of ducks found in the region for interested birders.
  • Litzenberg Memorial Woods, Hancock Parks District: This 200 acre park includes some terrain changes with some wooded ravines. The south side of the park is largely grassland with wet woods and hugging the Blanchard River. Potential Ode species include Slender and Stream bluets, Emerald, Sweetflag, and Slender spreadwings, Powdered and Blue-tipped Dancers, Midland Clubtails, Jewelwings, among others.
  • Springville Marsh State Nature Preserve: Within a 20 minute drive from the conference location, this state nature preserve is a host of plants that are extremely uncommon in Ohio. Many of these species are more often associated with the Atlantic Coastal plain, so we can expect some unique Odonata as well. There is a boardwalk trail system which connects to an observation tower and wildlife blind. This trip will be limited in size, so guides can still point out Odes from the boardwalk and everyone is able to see without being too crowded. Blue Faced Meadhowhawks were reported here in 2017.
  • Bright Conservation Area, Hancock Parks District: This park includes a large, wet grassland along the Blanchard River. Yellow and King Rails have been reported from this site and nearby. This is also close to the first report of a River Bluet (Enallagma anna) in Ohio. Perhaps you be the second person to see one in the State?
  • Hancock Sanitary Landfill: Yes, we said landfill. Now, before you freak out at the concept of paying for a conference to visit a landfill, let us explain. Shane Myers has spend a lot of time at this site, which has open access areas on the northern side of the site. These areas include a large grassland with several ponds, a large woodland area with vernal pools, and a creek. On the map, most of the upper half between CR 140, 109, and 142 is accessible. Large numbers of grasshopper sparrows nest here annually as well as the occasional Henslow’s sparrow. As for Odes, there are a variety of skimmers, Unicorn clubtails, Vesper and Skimming Bluets, Swamp, Slender, Emerald, and Elegant Spreadwings, and Whitefaces, among others.
  • Van Buren State Park: Camping on-site if desired. The eastern part, known as the Horse Camp, has trails leading to nearly year round wet woods. This site is on top of the Defiance Moraine, containing remnant populations of more upland plants than much of the surrounding areas. This is the site with the most elevation change, which isn’t much. Potential odes include the Cyrano Darner, and several bluets and dancers.
  • Oakwoods Nature Preserve, Hancock Parks District: For those who want to spend the minimal amount of time driving, we will have a group trip remaining at the Oakwoods Nature Preserve. This will be catered to beginners and focus on introductory ID skills for dragonflies and damselflies. There are 4.5 miles of trails at our conference center, following several lakes and streams.

New for 2018: Odonata All Stars!
Ohio Dragonfly Survey participants who have contributed to the survey will be acknowledged as Odonata All Stars. If you submitted observations prior to December 15th, 2017, then you are eligible for an award. Odonata-All-Stars will be noted on their name badges.

See the Odo-Con-18 tab for registration details.

To collect or not to collect, that is the question

In recent years, this has been a much debated topic with many picking their sides and sticking to them. Some see no problems with collecting whereas others find many issues with the idea of collecting. The goal of this post is to lay out various reasons why one might choose to collect Odonata versus reasons to not do so.

Why collect?

  1. You cannot confirm the identification in the field/with a camera. As a beginner, this can be hard to determine what is actually identifiable in the field and which you would need a specimen. However, there are several species of Odonata (and most other insects) that you just cannot identify in the field. We are working on a list of groups you will want to collect as they cannot be confirmed without the specimen in hand (certain meadowhawks, spreadwings, darners, basketails, many damsels). Stay tuned.

    For example, many of the meadowhawks have contentious ID’s until they are examined microscopically. Especially the Ruby , Cherry, and White-Faced meadowhawks. Photo by MaLisa Spring

  2. You cannot know what you lost if you do not know what you had. If no one ever documents the species then we will never know we lost it. Even with photo documentation, having the extra physical record saves us the backup copy of all of the digital data. We are hoping that all of our databases last forever, but systems fail and data can be lost or degraded over time.
  3. Future generations can see a species, even if none are left in the wild. Perhaps a bit of a downer, but species go extinct every day. There are several species of insects that used to be common across the Midwest such as the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) or the Nine-spotted Ladybeetle (Coccinella novemnotata) that are now restricted in range. I grew up having never seen these in the wild, yet our museum records show they used to be somewhat common.

    The nine-spotted ladybeetle (Coccinella novemnotata), which is now rare in the US used to be a rather common sight. This specimen was found in Minnesota, one of the few populations remaining. Very similar to the Seven-spotted ladybeetle (Coccinella septempunctata) which is an invasive species. Photo by MaLisa Spring

  4. Archival of genetic variability in a museum. You cannot extract DNA, heavy metals, or trace elements from a photo. Having a specimen to extract DNA or heavy metals helps us understand population dynamics, species descriptions, potential pathogens, or even natal habitat.
  5. Taxonomy is a work in progress. What is currently thought to be one species might actually be four species only distinguishable by some obscure character not observable via photo. If you have a specimen archived in a museum then you can go back through and determine which species you have. Some examples of taxa I expect to be reworked in the future would be Macromia and Sympetrum.

    There is a lot of inter-species variation in Macromia and many “hybrids” identified, which raises questions about the validity of the species concept. Photo by MaLisa Spring.

  6. The adults are going to die at the end of the year. If they have already given most of their reproductive output, then there is less harm to future generations.

Why NOT collect?

  1. You do not have landowner permission. Do not collect where you do not have permission to collect. We have created a landowner permission letter if you decide to search for dragonflies and damselflies on private lands. Please submit landowner permission letters at the end of the year. On public lands you often need a permit, so make sure to do so in advance. Some parks have granted the Ohio Dragonfly Survey permission, but please contact MaLisa Spring (spring.99@osu.edu) to be sure. If you are applying for permits, please let MaLisa Spring know so we can get an idea of where sampling is taking place. One exception to requiring a permit is National Forests (which are different from National Parks or State Forests). Non-commercial collections are allowed, but best to have a copy of the following letters that mention allowing insect collecting: Original USFWS letter and 2011 Update. See the updated Ode Locations page to get a general idea of places to look.

    Just as we all should know not to trespass on private land, you should always collect with permission of the landowner. Make sure you have permission from the right stakeholders so you do not get into trouble down the line. Many public parks and other natural areas require collecting permits. Make sure to start early in the season so you are not left sitting at the edge of a pond unable to catch *insert your target Ode here*. Photo by MaLisa Spring

  2. You do not have supplies. If you are in Ohio, we are providing certain collecting supplies (glassine envelopes, archival envelopes, archival paper, acetone) on the caveat that all specimens must be submitted to regional coordinators to be included in the survey and then archived in a museum for perpetuity. Nets are a matter of personal preference. Some are happy with standard insect net from Bioquip, but others rave about Rose Entomology Nets or even dip nets from your local outdoors store.
  3. You do not have the time to properly label and archive them. This is a pretty good reason to not collect specimens. If you do not have the time to properly preserve (dip in acetone, dry, then label) your dragonflies and damselflies, then perhaps it is best to avoid wasting life. For an explanation on how to preserve specimens, see this guide.

    Messy or improperly archived material is the terror of a museum collection manager. We want you to be able to do things right the first time so your specimens will last hundreds of years (and not end up looking like they were thrown haphazardly in a box.) Photo by MaLisa Spring

  4. It is a federally endangered species. At least in Ohio, the only federally endangered species of Odonata that might be here is the Hine’s Emerald. If you think you found a specimen, take several photos, but do not collect it. Instead, please contact MaLisa Spring (spring.99@osu.edu) and Bob Glotzhober (rglotz@twc.com) IMMEDIATELY so we can work on getting someone with the federal collecting permit up there. Note: in Ohio there are several State Endangered and Threatened species that you should also avoid collecting until the Scientific Collecting Permits are obtained. The list of State Endangered species is updated every five years. For more information about the Hine’s Emerald, we have created a half sheet handout that differentiates the Hine’s Emerald from other species. This factsheet will be available at various events, but you can also print your own copy.

    The Hine’s Emerald was originally found and described in Ohio. The paratype (the original specimen used to define the rest of the species) is housed in the Triplehorn Insect Collection. Photo by MaLisa Spring

  5. You are ethically opposed to sacrificing another organism. I do not have a good response for this one. I know that this is a challenge for some people and I do not want to push others to do something they find unpleasant or goes against their beliefs. Personally, I now only collect for research purposes. My personal collection is mainly things that were found dead as I see little point in collecting* if the specimens are not going to be available to the scientific community and future generations. I have a large research collection that is slowly getting incorporated into the Museum of Biological Diversity that currently represents 190+ species of bees found in Ohio, several of which are state records. I will be doing the same with all of the Odonata specimens I collect during my tenure as the State Coordinator.
  6. You might harm local populations by over-harvesting. Ideally, this would never happen, though there are rumors of some overzealous Lepidoptera collectors deliberately wiping out a population to drive up collection prices. For our survey, we restrict collecting to four individuals of the same species per site per day. I tend to lean towards one specimen per species per site and rarely revisit a site enough to warrant the per day restriction. Sometimes there are tricky species that look really similar so you have to grab several specimens just to be sure. Do your best to communicate with your regional and state coordinator if you plan on doing a lot of collections so we can try to avoid sending others out to that region to collect. Generally this is not a problem as invert populations are so large and have short generation times, but better safe than sorry.

Chances of wiping out an ode population are unlikely unless you are in an endangered habitat (fens, bogs, seeps) that is found nowhere else. Then you must be extra cautious about what you take. In the case of this Violet Dancer, it is a pretty safe bet that there are more of them. Photo by MaLisa Spring

The grey area:

So you are or know someone who might be opposed to collecting specimens. You can still help the survey by reporting photo observations to iNaturalist or if you have permission, collecting larval shells after the larvae have emerged from the water and become adults. By collecting cast shells, minimal organisms are injured, but there is an increase in the time it takes to identify.

The shells are not the easiest to spot, but once you know where to look you will start seeing them everywhere! Photo by MaLisa Spring

Your car is a killer. Sure, you notice if you unintentionally hit a coon or possum, but can you say the same for invertebrates? Every time you drive somewhere, you are hitting hundreds or thousands of insects. Sometimes you are unlucky enough to drive through clouds of insects, which no one enjoys. You could collect from your car since they have already been dispatched, but the challenge is location information. The more you can slim that down the better. Interestingly, research has been done on which speeds are most likely to take out a dragonfly, so if you really want to help out those endangered odes, try going just a little slower (where it is safe to do so).

A particularly eventful trip led to several clouds of “bugs” now smeared across the windshield. Photo by MaLisa Spring


Additional Collections Readings:

Insect Collectors Oath – PSU

Collectors Code of Conduct from the Joint Committee for the Conservation of British Invertebrates

Why do entomologists kill insects? A non-taxonomist’s perspective 

Involuntary Bioslaugther and Why a Spider is Dead

Jungle search gives global count of arthropods

Why We Kill Bugs – The Case for Collecting Insects

Permits: Where do you need them?


*With the exception of collecting to learn identifications. Collecting is an integral part of the learning process for some taxa as they cannot be identified via photos (see most beetles, flies, and bees).

The ranges, they are a-changin’

As we progress with the survey, we want to get an idea of which species are in each county and where any range expansions (or contractions) are occurring. This is especially of interest as we expect more southern species to migrate up and establish populations in Ohio.

Below are three such species that we really want to document their new ranges (or see if they are incidental observations).

Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii):

This species has been reported at water garden stores that bring up vegetation from southern states. As of yet, we are considering these populations as incidental until we can find them in more sites and not just in places that regularly import materials from southern locations. Do keep an eye out the next time you are at a water garden. It looks very similar to the Eastern Forktail, but has a slightly different color pattern on the terminal appendage. Note the amount of black on S9 for males.  Bugguide linkOdonata Central Link.

Rough sketch of male Rambur’s Forktail terminal appendage patterning by MaLisa Spring. Created in MS paint, so apologies for proportions.

Rough sketch of male Eastern Forktail terminal appendage patterning by MaLisa Spring. Created in MS paint, so apologies for proportions.

Swift Spreadwing (Dythemis velox):

Now known from five sites across the state in Greene, Champaign, Montgomery, and Muskingum County. These are distinct in how they hold their wings forward and have black wing tips. It is likely that this is now across most of the state, but we just need to document it. If you see one please get photo documentation and if possible collect a specimen (given landowner permission). Bugguide link. Odonata Central Link.

Swift Setwing posing with it’s characteristic wing posture. Keep an eye out for these wonderful dragons as they expand their range. Who knows, they might already be in your backyard! Photo by MaLisa Spring

Golden-Winged Skimmer (Libellula auripennis):

An uncommon sight, but this specimen was the third record for the state that was found during Odo-Con-17. This one was potentially blown up on the hurricane remnants a few days before the conference, but hard to be sure. If you see one, be sure to document and get good photos of the wing venation and thorax. Bugguide link. Odonata Central Link.

Dorsal view of Golden-winged Skimmer. Much more common in southern states and very similar to Needham’s skimmer. Photo by MaLisa Spring

Side (lateral) view of Golden-winged Skimmer. Much more common in southern states and very similar to Needham’s skimmer. Photo by MaLisa Spring

Also keep an eye out:

New State Record of a Belted Whiteface (Leucorrhinia proxima) by Rick Nirschl and confirmed on Odonata Central.

Potential for Scelionid wasps (egg parasitoids) hitching a ride on the abdomens of dragons and damsels. As of yet undocumented in Odonata, but a recent blog post from North Carolina suggests that they might be around. Dr. Norm Johnson at the Museum of Biological Diversity is particularly interested in these records. If you see any, try to catch a few specimens as it is likely to be a species new to science. The challenge is actually seeing them in the first place. If you think you have some in your collection, shoot me an email at spring.99@osu.edu!


Meet the Team: Regional Coordinators for the Ohio Dragonfly Survey

We are doing our best to get the survey off to a running start. Part of that running start is having a solid team of coordinators who people can contact.

Regional coordinators will have supplies (envelopes, acetone, permapens, and archival paper) for those wanting to do physical collections. At the end of each year, volunteers will submit specimens to their regional coordinators who will then forward the specimens to the state coordinator to get incorporated into a permanent museum collection. Regional coordinators are also great sources to ask questions about local habitats or get help with a tricky ID. Eventually, coordinators will help facilitate Odo-Blitzes in their region to try to get people out to an understudied county for a day or weekend. More on those in a future post.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has Ohio broken into five broad regions.

State Coordinator: MaLisa Spring (spring.99@osu.edu)

I am in charge of the overall survey and coordinating the regional coordinators. Feel free to reach out with general questions or anything related to Odonata in Ohio. I want to hear from you!

Background: I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Masters of Science in Entomology and Marietta College with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. I have worked on many research projects including urban pollinator habitat management, bee richness and floral use, ladybeetle diversity, mangrove restoration in abandoned shrimp farms, and insect diversity in the tropics among others.


Project Coordinator: Dr. Norm Johnson

Norm is the interface between the insect collection in the Museum of Biological Diversity and this survey.

Background:  Norm is the Martha N. and John C. Moser Chair in Arthropod Biosystematics and Biological Diversity and holds a joint appointment as Professor in the Department of Entomology and the Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology. Additionally, he is the Director of the C.A. Triplehorn Insect Collection. His research program focuses on the systematics of parasitic wasps (Platygastroidea). He has a Ph.D from Cornell University and a B.S. from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.


Regional Coordinators:

Central: MaLisa Spring (see above) and Bob Glotzhober (rglotz@twc.com)

Background: Bob Glotzhober finds almost any area of natural history of interest and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for the wonders of nature. He worked for 33 years with the Ohio Historical Society working with natural history collections, public programs, exhibits, and management of OHS’s
natural areas. Special projects included coordinating the Ohio Dragonfly Survey and working with bones of Pleistocene mammals.
Before coming to OHS he spent three years teaching high school biology, and four years working as a naturalist for the National Wildlife Federation and the Michigan Audubon Society.
Glotzhober has a MS in Zoology from Michigan State University. He served on the Ohio Natural Areas Council for 15 years and was also a member of the Federal Recovery Team for the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly. In 2008 he was awarded the Wildlife Diversity Conservation Award by the Ohio Division of Wildlife for his work with dragonflies and damselflies in Ohio. In 2011 he was given the Distinguished Professional Interpreter Award by the Great Lakes Region of the National Association for Interpretation. In 2014 he was given the Naturalist Award from the Ohio Biological Survey for his years of work promoting the natural history of Ohio.


Northwest: Shane Myers ( srmyers429@gmail.com)

Background: Shane has a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from University of Findlay and is currently working as a quality engineer for a global auto parts manufacturer. In his free time, he is an active member of the Hancock County Naturalists, and sits on the board of directors for the Blanchard River Watershed Partnership and the Hancock County Parks Foundation. Working with the Hancock County Parks and the Naturalists, he’s been doing a countywide Odonate survey, adding over a dozen species to the county list and one to the state list. He is also working with Robert Sams to update the 1980 book, The Birds of Hancock County, including nearly 100 years of bird data.

 Northeast: Linda Gilbert (lgilbert@geaugaparkdistrict.org)

Background: Linda Gilbert serves on the staff of Geauga Park District as a naturalist and field technician.  Her background in natural history comes from being raised on a wonderful piece of rural property and also from an avid curiosity to know what kinds of wild things share the environment.  Undergraduate biology courses and extra-curricular nature studies have also helped to expand and deepen her interest in nature.  Linda conducts dragonfly/damselfly surveys on several park properties as well as her own.  She is a co-author with Larry Rosche and Judy Semroc of Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio 2nd. ed.  In the past, she has volunteered for citizen science projects, including vernal pool monitoring, Monarch butterfly tagging, the Ohio Breeding Bird Survey, and Project Feeder Watch.  Linda is also a professional musician and holds degrees in music from Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory and Cleveland State University.  Hobbies include nature photography and water-gardening.

Southeast: Lynda Andrews (landrews@fs.fed.us)

Background: Lynda is currently employed as a supervisory wildlife biologist on the Wayne National Forest. She began her Forest Service career in 1989 as a wildlife biologist on the Somerset and Stearns Ranger Districts of the Daniel Boone National Forest.  She was also previously employed by the Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources as the first female biologist hired full-time permanent by the organization and previously spent many hours in Kentucky streams collecting insects for the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission.
A native of Glouster, Ohio (Athens County) Lynda developed her passion for the outdoors and animals by spending countless hours in the Burr Oak area.  She attended Morehead State University, in northeastern Kentucky, where she obtained an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science, Ecology option and ultimately received a Master’s of Science Degree with an emphasis in Zoology.  Her thesis was based on aquatic insects. Today Lynda enjoys birdwatching, tagging Monarch butterflies and photography.

Southwest: Jim Lemon (jlem@woh.rr.com)

Background: Jim grew up on the banks of South Turkeyfoot Creek, a major tributary to the Maumee. He has been fascinated by nature since he turned over his first rock. Jim studied Entomology at OSU, hoping to work in the field, but never got away from the university, retiring in 2012. Now he spends time being an entomologist volunteering – he gives talks and leads tours at Cedar Bog SNP and other natural areas, he is an OCVN, and he co-chairs the Urbana Tree Commission. Jim hosts Moth Nights at Cedar Bog, and has been expanding the Odonata database for Champaign, Miami, Shelby, and Darke Counties.