Save the Date – 2022 Ohio Dragonfly Conference! Saturday, June 25th in Dayton, Ohio

Hello everyone!

After 2 years of pandemic delays, the Ohio Odonata Society plans to host a small conference this summer on Saturday, June 25th at the Education Center at Possum Creek Metro Park in Dayton, Ohio. This is a somewhat centrally located spot which is easy to access from many highways and also allows for field trips to find some cool dragonfly and damselfly species nearby.

A few key things to note related to Covid precautions:
1. We plan to keep as much of the conference outdoors as possible. We have limited the number of presentations to maximize the amount of time spent outside.

2. We selected a venue that has several large double doors and large windows that we plan to keep open for the duration to maximize air flow while people are in the building.

3. We opted to have the conference at the end of June which coincides with the lowest case count in 2021, so hopefully this year will follow a similar trend of decreased cases in the state.

4. We cut our normally 3 day conference down to a single day to reduce the overall contact time.

5. Conference size will be capped at 50 attendees.

6. Meals are on your own, so no group gatherings around food. Packing a lunch will reduce chances of getting covid while visiting a restaurant.

7. We ask that you please bring a mask to wear indoors, but again, most of the time will be spent outdoors and there will hopefully be only a handful of active cases in the state by then.

Registration is now Open! Sign up here: 2022 Conference Sign up

Also, the Ohio Odonata Society needs a new treasurer! Bob Restifo is officially retiring from his treasurer position that he has held for 2 decades. If you would like the Ohio Odonata Society to continue to exist, please consider stepping up as a new treasurer. This topic will be discussed at the society business meeting at the conference, but feel free to reach out to us beforehand if you think you would like to take up the role. We will also be recruiting a new member-at-large position, but the treasurer position is more important.

Best wishes,

President of the Ohio Odonata Society

Book updates and targeted image search

Dave McShaffrey, Jim McCormac, and myself (MaLisa) are still chugging along with new new all Ohio Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies (official title TBD). We are getting close with the text and have sorted through most species for photos.

Thank you to those who have submitted photo permission forms! We have been picking out at least two candidate images per sex for each species known to occur in Ohio. Then our publisher will decide between those images of which one we actually end up using. I will then need to follow up with photographers to get the original image file for each selected image, so that will take some time. As of right now, I have not informed anyone if their image is a candidate for a particular species, so if you already submitted images for species not on the list, don’t worry.

One challenge we have run into is that our field guide is supposed to cover all species that have historically been found in Ohio. However, there are a lot of species that we have not seen in recent years, or we see mostly males, or we only have one or two blurry images. Thus, we are putting out an additional targeted species request for publication quality images of the following taxa: Google Sheets List of Requested Odonata

We have also added in a short wish list at the end of the list of species we think might be found in Ohio, but have not yet been documented. So this can be your challenge to either A) find and document them in Ohio (and then we would need to write a full species profile for them, but I won’t complain), or B) submit your photo records from travels outside of Ohio. In general, preference will be for images taken from Ohio, but we know that just is not feasible for many of these species.

How to submit your images for potential selection:

Please fill out the photo use permission letter below and email it to MaLisa at spring (dot) 99 (at) osu (dot) edu*. If you do not have your images on iNaturalist, please send a link the the appropriate location where they are stored (Odonata Central, Bugguide, Flickr). iNaturalist or Odonata central images are preferred as they have already been vetted for an ID.

Please be sure to check the Google Sheets List of Requested Odonata to see which species we still need publication quality images. See the end of this post for key characters we are trying to get in each species profile.

*while swapping the (dot) with . and (at) with @ – this is done to avoid email crawling and spam on my end

Photo Use Permission Letter: PhotoPermission


Key characters of a publication quality image with some varying quality examples by MaLisa:

  • Fill the frame (but not by heavily cropping)

    In this bad example, the Twelve Spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) is hard to see. It could be cropped to see easier, but then you are working with fewer pixels overall, which runs into a different issue.


    Even with cropping, this particular image isn’t really redeemable. Cropping your image to focus on the bug will not necessarily make it a publishable image. That is why it is ideal to fill your frame with your target when you are initially photographing them, but like this skimmer, they are not always cooperative in letting you get closer.

  • The whole dragonfly should be in focus, especially the eyes, but we would also like the terminal appendages in focus as well. Hence why it is so hard to get some of the images.

This is a neat image of a Sri Lankan Shining Gossamerwing (Euchaea splendens, Family Euphaeidae), but unfortunately the tip of the abdomen is not in focus. So this would not be a candidate for our book (in addition to it not being a species found in Ohio, but I digress)

Meanwhile, this female Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata) is mostly in focus (though the tip of the abdomen could be sharper)

  • Avoid high ISO, noisy images. If you are in a situation where you need a higher ISO, try adding in a flash instead.

From a distance, this Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum) looks decent, however, if you zoom in, you can see the pixelation that occurs. This extra noise will not reproduce as well in a printed document.

This crop shows the noise a bit better. Some cameras are better than others when it comes to higher ISOs and noise. My small Canon SLR can only go up to a 400 ISO before the noise starts to get really evident. My Panasonic ultrazoom camera can’t seem to shoot a non-noisy image, regardless of the ISO, but it is still great for field work and documenting species I otherwise would not have been able to see.

  • Try to get non-distracting backgrounds

This Slender Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum luzonicum) from Sri Lanka is perched nicely. However, the background is distracting in addition to the image being somewhat noisy. The F number was 11/2, ISO 320, and a shutter speed of 1/160 , and focal length of 87 mm – note these numbers are a bit weird because this was taken on a Panasonic Point and Shoot.

Meanwhile, this is the same bug on the same perch, but in this case the settings have been changed to make the background blurry. The F number was 57/10, ISO 320, and a shutter speed of 1/159 , and focal length of 1899/10 mm – note these numbers are a bit weird because this was taken on a Panasonic Point and Shoot. Normally you change the background blur by changing the aperture value (f-stop), but in this case it seems that I instead got closer and farther away from the specimen, with the more distant image being the one with the more blurred background. This image still has issues with noise and sharpness, but does a decent job of illustrating blurring backgrounds.

  • Large file sizes – the image should be a minimum 2,000 pixels wide, and ideally shot in RAW

Another Sri Lankan damselfly, this is the Sri Lanka Green’s Gem (Libellago greeni, Family Chlorocyphidae). This image is 400 x 276 pixels. You can always reduce your image later, but starting with a small image and making it bigger does not work well with image editing.

In this case, the original edit is a bit pixelated, but it is hard to pass up such a neat dragonfly in the field. This is the original non-reduced edit at 2338 x 1611 pixels.

And here is the small version of the image that is expanded out, back to the original size of 2338 x 1611 pixels. As you can see, going from large to small image typically does not harm the image that much. But going from small to large really breaks down the image quality, which is why it is so important to shot images as large files initially as you cannot get back the detail that you lost.


2020 Ohio Dragonfly Conference! Join us June 5th-7th!

The 2020 Conference has been postponed to 2021!

Registration is now open for the 2020 Ohio Dragonfly Conference! This year it will be June 5th-7th based out of the Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield, Ohio.  Regular registration is $40 and student registration is discounted to $10.

The Ohio Odonata Society welcomes you to join us for the 2020 Ohio Dragonfly Conference held at the Richland County Park District’s Gorman Nature Center located in Mansfield, OH. This year’s conference will feature a well-rounded and diverse group of speakers represented from all around the state of Ohio with former Ohio Wetland Association President Ray Stewart highlighted as the Keynote presenting on “What do wetlands have to do with Climate Change?” There will be a variety of field trips offered ranging from photography focused to wet (kayak/canoe)

To register, visit:

Check back here for news!

Covid-19 Pandemic Updates:

2020 conference has been postponed until next year. New Dates TBD.

As of right now, the Ohio Dragonfly Conference registration IS open. However, given all the recent news about Covid-19, we will definitely play it by ear as we get closer. So feel free to register now if you want, and we can reimburse you if we need to. Or bookmark this page and register later.  I doubt we will fill up this year, so I wouldn’t be too worried about that. Your safety is our priority, so we want you all to be okay to watch dragons another day. We will work through this. – MaLisa

List of field trip types:

Dry Field Trip: We will be offering “dry” field trips to those that do not wish to get wet in the field. This trip will be light impact and is ideal for those that have health/mobility restrictions. Field sites are yet to be determined.

Photography Field Trip: This field trip is geared for folks interested in learning different photography techniques for capturing Ode images, while in the field. It will be lead by Kyle Bailey & Rick Nirschl. This trip will focus on the Mohican River Valley with River Cruisers, Clubtails, and Gray Petaltail.

Dry/Wet Field Trip #1: There will be two different “dry/wet” field trips to various sites in North Central Ohio. These field trips are oriented to be in the field in typical wetland/river/stream habitat. Please be prepared to get wet; however, there will dry areas also.

Dry/Wet Field Trip #2: There will be two different “dry/wet” field trips to various sites in North Central Ohio. These field trips are oriented to be in the field in typical wetland/river/stream habitat. Please be prepared to get wet; however, there will dry areas also.

Wet Field Trip: We will be offering a “wet” field trip, which will focus on canoeing/kayaking local waterways searching for Odonata in inaccessible areas by foot. The wet field trip destination has yet to be determined.




Ohio Dragonfly Conference 2020 Itinerary
Friday, June 5th
4:30 PM Registration opens
5:00 PM Arrival/social- see vendors
5:45 PM Opening remarks – Kyle Bailey
6:00 PM Dragons and Damsels 101 – Dan Hodges (Naturalist- Johnny Appleseed Metroparks)
7:00 PM Surveying Techniques & Methodology – Shane Myers (Naturalist- Former NW Ohio Dragonfly Survey Coordinator)
7:30 PM Keynote – Ray Stewart (Former OWA Founder & President)- What do wetlands have to do with Climate Change?
8:30 PM Dinner on your own
10:00 PM Evening light sheet to look for moths and other fun night flying insects
Saturday, June 6th
9:00 AM Summary of the Ohio Dragonfly Survey Thus Far – MaLisa Spring (OOS President – Ohio Dragonfly Survey Coordinator)
9:40 AM Official Survey is Done— What’s Next? – Jim Lemon (Former OOS board member & Former SW Survey Coordinator)
10:20 AM 2021 National Conference in Marietta – Dave McShaffrey ( OOS Board Member)
11:00 AM Find ‘Em & Shoot ‘ Em: Locating & Photographing Uncommon Dragonflies – Rick Nirschl (Amateur Photographer- Ohio Dragonfly Survey (Leader- most species documented))
11:40 AM Lunch (boxed lunch from Wayne’s Country Market or on your own)
12:30-6:30 PM Field Trips
7:00 PM Dinner Catered by Panera
8:00 PM Aquatic Invasive Plants and What Changes to the ‘Underwater Forests’ mean for Odonata – Mark Warman (Cleveland Metropark- Aquatic Invasive Species Project Coordinator)
8:40 PM Heads Up for the Hines Emerald Dragonfly – Bob Glotzhober (Emeritus Curator of Natural History, Ohio History Connection)
9:20 PM Palustrine Predators: The Important Role of Odonates in Wetlands and Restoration Techniques to Create Quality Habitat – Jenna Odegard (Mad Scientist Associates LLC)
10:00 PM Evening light sheet to look for moths and other fun night flying insects
Sunday, June 7th
9:00 AM Business meeting for Ohio Odonata Society- all are welcome to attend and OOS membership is included in the conference registration
10:00 AM Depart and self guided field trips based on nearby hotspot list

Upcoming book – photo request

Hi everyone!

As a few of you may have heard, we are planning on creating an All Ohio Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies. This is meant to be an easy to use field guide for anyone looking to learn about Ohio Odonata. We are in the process of writing the bulk of the book, but we want our volunteers to have a chance to potentially have their images selected for the publication.

If you are interested in potentially having your images selected for inclusion in the book, please fill out our Photo Use Permission Letter and either email or send via snail mail to MaLisa. Feel free to also email MaLisa a list of your personal favorite images that you think are good candidates, though that is not required.

Photo Use Permission Letter: PhotoPermission

Images will be selected from those users who have submitted photo records to iNaturalist AND filled out the permission form. We will not use any images without the express permission of the photographer with the properly filled out form. Please have all photo observations uploaded by December 1st (the regular upload deadline) along with the signed form if you would like to be included.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like a modified form.


2019 Revised Map updates!

Below is an update from Jim Lemon as he extracts data from iNaturalist.


Good morning,

Here is a revised map on 2019 observations to iNaturalist for the Ohio Dragonfly Survey – as of last night (midnight Jul 16, 2019).
We are making progress – actually quite a bit in the last 10 days.
The light the color, the fewer observations – and obviously, the greater need for observers/observations during the rest of the season.I kept the scaling the same so we can see the progress – the east group needs several folks to visit.
These are Research Grade observations made in 2019. We will be over 14,000 observations for 2019 by the end of the week, from over 500 different observers, representing 125 species so far (Variable Dancer and Violet Dancer are considered the same, as are North American Slender Bluet and Westfall’s Slender Bluet (previously known as Western Slender Bluet).
Blue Dasher is our most commonly observed Dragonfly do far with nearly 1200 observations (bit Eastern Pondhawk is catching up quickly – EP was our most commonly observed Ode in 2018), Eastern Forktail is the most observed Damselfly with over 850 observations – and is now pulling away from Fragile Forktail.
We have two sp now with 2019 observations in all Ohio Counties – Blue Dasher and Common Whitetail. Sp within striking range are Eastern Pondhawk (85), Fragile Forktail (84), Eastern Forktail (83), Widow Skimmer (82).
These numbers are changing every day – we are averaging over 330 submissions per day, July is on track to be our first 10,000 observation month. Pretty cool.
Also sending a spreadsheet on numbers – by county, distict, sp. Click the link here –> 17jul2019 obs x cty
ever sideways – Jim
Also, a note from Bill Hull: “watch out for odes that might be moving north with the blast of wind and heat from the south. I saw a “Red” Saddlebags fly over my urban yard a little bit ago that I suspect was a real Red Saddlebags. In particular, people should watch for Red and Striped Saddlebags and Band-winged Dragonlets.”

2019 Progress so far!

With all of the rain this year, we are doing surprisingly well and yet still have time for office work.

Jim Lemon has taken the time to sort through the data yet again! Below is an excerpt from Jim’s extractions.

“Here’s a map from the iNaturalist Ohio Dragonfly Survey Project showing the 2019 Research Grade observations per county. This is as of 6AM 6/13 (and now out of date).

The darker the color, the more observations. The specific ranges are keyed on the map.
There a still 5 counties with no observations yet, and 12 with fewer than 10 observations.
Franklin Co is the runaway leader with 439, almost double the next two – Gallia, Jackson (which benefited from the Dragonfly Conference attention).
Here are the numbers:
Frankli 439
Gallia 253
Jackson 241
Summit 207
Lorain 205
Hamilto 202
Champai 187
Lucas 144
Hancock 129
Coshoct 116
Geauga 108
Montgo 107
Madison 101
Medina 95
Lake 92
Fayette 86
Washing 78
Musking 73
Clermon 70
Delawar 69
Cuyahog 68
Fairfie 66
Greene 66
Pickawa 64
Clark 61
Meigs 60
Logan 58
Wyandot 55
Miami 53
Brown 52
Stark 52
Portage 49
Clinton 48
Athens 45
Ashtabu 44
Guernse 42
Crawfor 37
Highlan 34
Mahonin 34
Pike 33
Adams 32
William 32
Butler 31
Defianc 30
Seneca 30
Darke 28
Warren 28
Allen 27
Harriso 26
Preble 26
Auglaiz 25
Hocking 24
Trumbul 23
Wayne 23
Licking 21
Ross 21
Marion 20
Pauldin 20
Union 19
Morgan 18
Perry 18
Shelby 18
Hardin 15
Mercer 15
Wood 15
Vinton 14
Scioto 13
Henry 11
Knox 11
Morrow 10
Ottawa 10
Sandusk 9
Carroll 8
Erie 8
Fulton 8
Lawrenc 8
Monroe 8
Noble 7
Holmes 6
Putnam 6
Columbi 5
Richlan 4
Belmont 1
Van Wer 0
Ashland 0
Huron 0
Tuscara 0
Jeffers 0″

So, that means that as of June 13th (admittedly a week ago as of this writing), we have several counties that need attention. Some people have already taken the initiative to visit those areas to get records for this year, but most of them still need dragon records if the weather will cooperate.

Note that the map is about a week out of date at this point, but it will still give you some pointers. Also note that if you are in an area with lots of observations, we still want your observations! Plus, different species fly at different times of the year, so we expect to start seeing our mid-summer species now and in August our fall species.

Make sure to submit your records to iNaturalist by December 1st, 2019 if you aren’t submitting them as you go along through the summer. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to MaLisa or your regional coordinator. Let’s make this a great year!



Species Breakouts!

Guest post by Jim Lemon

Breakout Species for 2019 (so far) – Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)

We have seen big expansion (range and observation) of some species in recent years – notably Slaty Skimmer starting in 2017, and Carolina Saddlebags in 2018. These are species that have a historical record in Ohio, but for some periods only averaged 1 every five years, or so.
It appears we will be adding another dragon to this list for 2019 – Great Blue Skimmer (GBS). We already have 33 observations (32 research grade) in 2019. Our OOS historical data only has 92 records for prior years. 2019 observations will include at least 7 new county records (see the map – 2019 observations in orange), and from all across the state.
GBS observations would not be a surprise in any county at this point. Habitat is wooded stream and swamps. My observations all match that description.
Our succession of storm fronts from the south and west may be contributing factors to GBS widespread appearance.
Happy hunting!
UPDATE: As of June 13, we have even more county records for the species with observations in 23 counties and at least 9 new county records.
MaLisa has also spotted them in Muskingum County in a woodland “Vernal” pool that hasn’t dried up for at least a year thanks to our very wet weather. It was a pleasure to watch 6 males actively patrolling the site and not just perching. These males exhibited a unique flight and then hover behavior. Often flying 4 meters, then hovering, then flying another 4 meters, then hovering.

This was one of several Great Blue Skimmers at a new site. This male is gently held by the wings with the habitat type (small wetland opening in a forest) visible.

Spring Dragons – What to Expect in March – April in Ohio

What cool records will we find this year? One of the challenging things about dragonflies and damselflies is that some species are seasonal. We have some species that start showing up in April and fly all year long. Other species have only been documented in May, rarely found afterwards.

Thus, this blog is to help you target the April/May species and make sure you don’t miss out on the ones with short flight dates. We do have a list of complete flight dates along with a separate page for 2018 Ohio species maps. It also wouldn’t hurt to review the locations you can access and try to document dragonflies. Although not complete, I have a short page on the types of habitats that you could check out for new species.


Now, onto our early season dragons.

Almost every year, our earliest recorded adult is the Common Green Darner, Anax junius. It is a known migratory species, so we are likely enjoying the wave of adults as the move northward from their winter home. This Blue/Green dragon is known to taunt photographers and collectors alike. Aside from really cool days, it rarely lands and instead flies at impressive speeds, able to dodge most net and camera wielding naturalists. In 2018, our earliest records were on April 5th, followed by many people documenting them mid and lat April.

They can be challenging to document, but if you take the time to pan with the Common Green Darner, you can sometimes get a somewhat clear shot. However, we accept and appreciate any blurry photos, as these are still identifiable in their mostly blur images.

Flight chart for all historical records in Ohio. As you can see by their flight chart, the Common Green Darner shows up early, but has highest populations midsummer.

The Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata), was also documented on April 5th by Sheree Cyra-Moorman, but it wasn’t reported again until May 1st. I have a separate blog just for this species, but if you are in central or southern Ohio, this is a species to watch.

The Blue Corporal is listed as State endangered, but we have been able to document many in the last two years. Will you find one?

Flight Chart of all historical Ohio Records. The Blue Corporal is a true spring species, rarely being documented past May. Make sure to visit clear, deep lakes in May to get a nice image of this State Endangered Species!

Our next species to be reported in Ohio was the Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis), by Sarah White on April 21st in Montgomery County.  Our dates this year will depend on the weather, but start looking once we have had a few days of 60s in a row.

Not a perfect image, but you can at least see the main patterns used to identify the Eastern Forktail. The males have green thoracic stripes and two segments of blue at the end of their abdomen.

The Eastern Forktail has perhaps one of our longest flight periods. It emerges early and flies late.

In 2018, it was not until the end of April that a Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) was first reported. Similar in size to the Eastern Forktail, the Fragile Forktail does not have the blue at the end of the abdomen and has a broken thoracic stripe.

Fragile Forktails are found close to most aquatic habitats, often seen flying around in the grass near ponds and lakes.

In 2018, we also had Uhler’s Sunddragon (Helocordulia uhleri) reported at the end of April in Adams County. This southern stream species is listed as State Endangered, so it is a rare find. It looks very similar to a Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura), but has more black at the base of the wings and a slight widening of the abdomen near the middle.

We have only documented Uhler’s Sundragon in April and May. Fingers crossed that we can find this at the Ohio Dragonfly Conference in Southern Ohio this year.

Then, at the beginning of May, we start getting a lot more species emerging.

Our first Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis) was observed by Jim Lemon on May 2nd.

The first Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina) was documented by Sarah White on May 4th.

Carolina Saddlebags observations peak in May and then taper off the rest of the summer

The first Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata), was also documented by Sarah White on May 4th. Kim Smith spotted another Painted Skimmer the next day in Lucas County, ~170 miles north of the first observation. So as soon as the first southern person reports one, I would not be surprised to also see them being reported in northern Ohio.

Painted Skimmers are similar to Halloween Pennants, but have less orange in the wings. The Painted Skimmer abdomen is also black in the center and orange along the edges, compared to the Halloween Pennant, which has black edges and orange/yellow in the center of the segments.

The Painted Skimmer is an early season ode, with most of the observations occurring in May and Early June.

By May 5th, we had reports of Swamp Darners (Epiaeschna heros) in Ottawa County (northern Ohio).

By May 6th, we had our first reported Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata) at Cox Arboretum in Montgomery County, again by Sarah White.

Male Citrine Forktails are somewhat easy to ID if you can see them. Their abdomen is mostly orange with green thoracic stripes. Their small size makes them otherwise hard to notice.

Also on May 6th, we had our first reports of Springtime Darners (Basaieschna janata) in Logan County by Danielle Hodges and Jim Lemon. True to it’s name, it emerges in the spring.

The Springtime Darner can be tricky to document without first netting it and carefully holding it by the wings. In addition to the blue on the abdomen and green thoracic stripe, the Springtime Darner has characteristic brown at the base of the wings that helps differentiate it from other darners.

By May 9th, we have lots of observations of the above species and our first observation of the Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) in Summit County.

Then finally on May 10th, Jim Lemon spots a teneral Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) emerging in Champaign County.

By May 10th, Sarah White recorded the first of the year records for Wandering Gliders (Pantala flavescens), Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis), Orange Bluets (Enallagma signatum), and Skimming Bluets (Enallagma geminatum).

Also on May 10th, Jon Cefus and Kent Miller documented the first Stream Cruiser (Didymops transversa) of the year!

Finally, on May 11th, MaLisa Spring documents the first Ohio records of Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) and Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) in Vinton County.

The Aurora Damsel holds its wings like a spreadwing, despite being in the Pond Damsels Family. It also lacks the typical thoracic stripe and instead has a black outline similar to a guitar/bottle/gummy bear on the top of the thorax.

The Aurora Damsel is only found in the Spring, so make sure to keep an eye out for it.

The Common Baskettails are only found early in the season. These can be challenging to identify without a clear shot of the male terminal appendages from the side or the female subgenital plates from underneath.

By May 12th, we have our first Ohio reports of Twelve-spotted skimmers (Libellula pulchella) and Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) in Warren County.

May 12th also brings our first report of Double Striped Bluets (Enallagma basidens) in Montgomery County, Ohio by Sheree Cyra-Moorman (who also spotted Black Saddlebags that day).

The Double Striped Bluets are small and somewhat easily overlooked. True to their namesake, they have an extra stripe on their thorax, breaking up the black with a thin blue stripe.

In 2018, May 13th was our first day we had reports of Azure Bluets (Enallagma aspersum) in Franklin County by Alisa DeMatteo.

Jim Lemon also spotted the first Eastern Red Damsel (Amphiagrion saucium) in Champaign County on May 13th.

The Eastern Red Damsel is mostly red, with black only on the top of the thorax and at the last four segments of the abdomen.

By May 15th, we have our first report of a Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) along with a Pronghorn Clubtail (Phanogomphus grasilenellus) in Greene County by Sarah White. Jim Lemon also spots a Familiar Bluet in Shelby County that day.

Jim Lemon spots the first Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis) in Miami County and the first Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) in Shelby County on May 15th.

In Lorain County on May 15th, we have our first of the year Ohio record for the Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta).

The Dot-Tailed Whiteface is a mostly black dragon with a conveniently white face, and you guessed it, a dot on its tail.

In Champaign County on May 15th, Alisa DeMatteo is on a different adventure. She found both the First Of the Year and first record since 1934 in Champaign County for the Band-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata). After 84 years, when the species was first reported in Ohio, Alisa was able to document this rare species once again for Champaign County. A different population was known from Northeastern Ohio in 2006 and 2007, with only two other reports in the state, once in 2014 in Lorain County and again in 2018 on the 4th of July in Ottawa County by Ryan Jacob. Regardless, this is a great find that only shows up rarely in Ohio.

This rare dragon has only been found in Ohio a few times. Maybe you will spot one this year?


That is enough records for now. The above species should give you an idea of what you might expect in the next month or so. Look out for part 2, which will list the First Of the Year 2018 records for the latter half of May. The key takeaway from the above is that once the species is mentioned, we then begin to see lots of people reporting them. So if they are spotted once somewhere in the state, expect them to be out and flying in other parts of the state in short order.




For the data nerds, Jim Lemon has compiled the below information.

Ohio Dragonfly Survey 2018

Thanks again to all of the many volunteers who have contributed data via iNaturalist. We would not be able to do so much if it was not for you. 2018 was a record year in a lot of ways, with a record number of observations, species expansions, and new county records.


To put this in comparison, above is a bar chart showing all observations ever recorded in the Ohio Odonata Society database. The red line is just data from 2018! (Note the dip in observation numbers in mid-june, coincidentally the date MaLisa Spring, Jim Lemon, and Dave McShaffrey were in Minnesota for the Dragonfly Society of the Americas conference).

In two years, we have doubled our known observations. It took the Ohio Odonata Society a DECADE to compile both specimens and old records from publications and museums to reach around 30,000 records. In two years, we have gotten 35,000 observations on iNaturalist! So thank you very much to everyone who has helped us reach these numbers! We cannot say that enough.

Now onto the fun data.

County Data

Top Counties – The Counties with the highest number of  Observations in 2018

Montgomery    1574
Champaign       1042 <- Jim Lemon frequents here
Franklin            918  <- Columbus
Summit             733 <- Akron
Lucas                 562 <- Toledo
Greene              529
Hancock           505 <– Location of the 2018 Conference

Top Counties – Counties with the highest number of Species Reported in 2018

County # of Species Reported
Lucas 70
Lake 66
Ashtabula 65
Hocking 65
Greene 62
Montgomery 61
Champaign 58
Summit 58
Geauga 54
Hancock 54
Franklin 53

Top Counties –  Counties with the highest number of Observers in 2018

County # of People Reporting
Summit 70
Franklin 65
Cuyahoga 52
Portage 37
Delaware 34
Montgomery 33
Lucas 32
Greene 30
Hancock 28
Lake 28

Combined Top Scores

County # of Observations Species Reported # of People Reporting
Montgomery 1574 61 33
Franklin 918 53 65
Summit 733 58 70
Champaign 1042 58 26
Lucas 562 70 32
Greene 529 62 30
Hancock 505 54 28
Lake 325 66 28
Cuyahoga 231 43 52
Geauga 388 54 22
Delaware 300 45 34
Medina 412 46 24
Ashtabula 387 65 17
Lorain 443 43 22

These numbers reinforce the thread – more people lead to more observations, which lead to more species being seen.

Most Observed Species Data – 2018 – top 7

Species # of Users observing # of counties reported Total # of observations
Eastern Pondhawk 182 87 1455
Eastern Forktail 127 86 1323
Blue Dasher 164 88 1214
Widow Skimmer 149 86 939
Eastern Amberwing 123 85 896
Fragile Forktail 111 85 843
Common Whitetail 152 81 803

*Note that there are only 88 counties in Ohio

Surprise! Eastern Pondhawk is our champion for most observations across Ohio! If there is one dragon you are most likely to find, it is this beast.

Most Observed Species Data prior to 2018 – top 7

Species # of Users observing # of counties reported Total # of observations
Eastern Forktail 309 88 2092
Eastern Pondhawk 292 88 1792
Blue Dasher 291 88 1792
Widow Skimmer 330 88 1576
Common Whitetail 308 88 1575
Eastern Amberwing 255 88 1280
Ebony Jewelwing 300 87 1202


It’s interesting to see the slight changes in order in the most observed. No surprises, any of these species could be expected through most of the season, especially Jun-Jul, anywhere there’s water.

The flip-side are species where numbers are low, and or in the past. If you wanna be a rock star at the conference, find one of these…

Species not seen since before 1990:

Species Year last seen County last observed
Spine-crowned Clubtail 1937 Ashland
Taper-tailed Darner 1960 Cuyahoga
Variable Darner 1951 Williams
Georgia River Cruiser 1956 Paulding
Hine’s Emerald 1961 Lucas
Kennedy’s Emerald 1955 Erie
Little Blue Dragonlet 1933 Vinton
Saffron-winged Meadowhawk 1957 Knox
Appalachian Jewelwing 1900 Ashland
Atlantic Bluet 1897 Franklin
Furtive Forktail 1959 Marion

The Hine’s Emerald is a Federally Endangered Species, that was described from specimens in Ohio. (And also named after one of our key dragonfly collectors, J.S. Hine). Alas, it has not been documented in Ohio since 1961.


Additional Species with very limited range:

# counties last seen – county

Species Year last seen County last observed
American Emerald 2018 Portage
Jade Clubtail 2018 Shelby/Auglaize
Striped Saddlebags 2018 Lucas/Summit
Belted Whiteface 2017 Lucas
Incurvate Emerald 1996 Athens
River Bluet 2016 Hancock
Scarlet Skimmer 2018 Summit
Yellow-sided Skimmer 2011 Pike

So, are you going to go out this year and try to find these missing species? Let us know if you think you found them!

2018 County Records

Written by Jim Lemon and MaLisa Spring

The Ohio Odonata Society maintains a database for our Dragon/Damsel records. Key data are species, date, and location (including county). The earliest record date for a species in a county is known as the “County Record”. This can be a bit of a moving target as observations/specimens come to our knowledge. But it’s interesting to note county records at discrete moments, and update appropriately. New county records can mean different things – 1) part of it is simply having someone making observations, 2) part of it is species expanding their range, 3) part is irruption (sudden change due to various factors).

2018 was a banner year for new County Records. We had 286 County Records, far above any other year in our data!

Our Top Counties (#New County Records 2018) are most likely simply having people out looking:

Wood (12 new records); Lawrence (11); Guernsey (10); Madison (10); Preble (9); Brown (7); Fulton (7); Hocking (7); Sandusky (7); Seneca (7)

Map of the new 2018 County Records. The darker the color, the more records found in that county.

Looking at the map, most of these are towards the edge of the state, if not a border county. More observers leads to more observations and subsequently new county records.


If we look at the species having the most recent County Records, we see a different look.

Most New Species County Records – 2018 – 2017 – 2016

Carolina Saddlebags = 15 (3 in 2017)

Wandering Glider = 15 (5 in 2017)

Dusky Dancer = 12 (8 in 2017)

Westfall’s Slender Bluet = 11 (9 in 2017)

Slaty Skimmer = 10 (13 in 2017)

Flag-tailed Spinyleg = 8 (1 in 2017)

Unicorn Clubtail = 8 (4 in 2017)

Blue-faced Meadowhawk = 7 (4 in 2017)

Blue-ringed Dancer = 7 (5 in 2017)

Comet Darner = 7 (4 in 2017)

Vesper Bluet = 7 (4 in 2017)

One story here is the big numbers for Carolina Saddlebags in 2018 – 15 County Records and reported in 25 other counties. While the State Record was established in Fairfield Co in 1895, after that there are many multiple year gaps in the data. Not until 1995 were there reports in more than two counties. Saddlebags are migratory, and many of our 2018 observations (but not all!) were early in the season – so we might have been on the receiving end of a successful brood in the Gulf States.

Carolina Saddlebags have a large patch of red in their hindwings and a mostly red abomen with the exception of abdominal segments 8 and 9, which are mostly black. This species is prone to hovering, so it is not as easy to get a clear, sharp shot for ID.

Slaty Skimmer has more county records (26) in the last three years than any other species. This is another that was first observed in the 1800’s – Erie Co in 1896, but then recorded very infrequently until our first statewide survey in the 1990’s. Observations and county numbers have climbed every year for the last five. In addition to the new county records, Slaty’s were reported in 60 counties in 2018. This is a pretty classic range expansion – and 20 counties still needing Slaty observations.

The Slaty Skimmer is sometimes called the Blueberry Dragon, as its skin is similar in color to a ripe blueberry. These will often perch for you, making a photograph slightly easier if you can find them. They have clear wings with completely black stigmas (the weird dark cells at the top of the wings).

Our next two – Westfall’s Slender Bluet (23) and Wandering Glider (22) – are most likely the result of having more people out looking. Wandering Glider is our global Odonate – and not uncommon, so just have people out looking is key. Westfall’s Slender Bluet is not a strong flier and is similar to several of our other Bluets – but just having people look around is likely a big factor.

The Wandering Gliders are about as frustrating to net as they are to photograph. They don’t even rest for mating, instead doing it on the wing! These pernicious hovering dragons will constantly move and dodge, to the frustration of photographers and specimen collectors. Many field groups spent a lot of time trying to document these last year. We would have records for these statewide if they would just sit still for a little bit more. They are also sometimes called flying carrots or flying cheetos, owing to their orange coloration and angular abdomen.

Westfall’s Slender Bluet is one of our easier male damselflies to identify with large blue eyespots, taking up most of the back of the head. The tip of their abdomen is also mostly black with only small rings of blue along the anterior (front) edge. Then it is not until the 8th and 9th segment that the abdomen is covered in blue again. They also have narrow thoracic stripes, with more blue on their thorax compared to the other blue damselflies. This pair is in tandem, with the male grasping the females neck as a form of mate guarding or protection.