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!


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 (

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 (

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 (

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 (

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 (

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 (

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.




Where to focus our effort? Using our time wisely

One challenge with species documentation is to figure out where it is worth it to spend our effort looking for unreported species. I have already briefly touched on this with my post on dragonfly and damselfly species richness and abundance by county. However, there are many ways to look at the data we currently have available.

We know that there are several counties that we just have not had that many people out looking for new records, thus there *should* be easy county records if we could just get someone to turn in reports from those counties. Later, I hope to be able to compile information of which Odonates we are missing that are found in specific habitats. So ideally, I will be able to say “We found species X, Y, and Z in ___ county, which are all known river species. How about checking out a few ponds, bogs, seeps, or other areas?” For now, I am sticking with rough metrics as I learn more about the individual species habitat preferences.

Similar to my earlier maps, I created new maps in R to illustrate counties that have fewer than 300 records (43 counties!!) or fewer than 40 reported species (17 counties).

This is a map of the Ohio counties that have fewer than 300 observations (in blue) reported as of Dec ’16 in the OOS database. This also includes the vetted iNaturalist records. Map created in R using packages ggmap, mapdata, and dplyr by MaLisa Spring.

This is a map of the Ohio counties that have fewer than 40 species (in blue) reported as of Dec ’16 in the OOS database. This also includes the vetted iNaturalist records. Map created in R using packages ggmap, mapdata, and dplyr by MaLisa Spring.

It is perhaps not a coincidence that these counties are some of the lower populated regions of Ohio.

Ohio Population map from 2010 census data with red showing high population density and green showing lower human population densities. This map was created by JimIrwin under the GNU Free Documentation License.

However, human population and sample effort are not the full explanation as to why the above counties have such low reported species richness. It could also be that those regions also have little aquatic diversity (ponds, streams, inlets, rivers, bogs, and other areas will all bring different Odonates). Especially considering that southeastern and southern Ohio also have low sample effort and human population, but have more than 40 species reported. If you have been to southern and southeastern Ohio, you know that the terrain and habitat are extremely different from the flat-lands of the north and western parts.

So what does this all mean? Well, that much is up for interpretation. We need dragonfly and damselfly records from ALL parts of Ohio, but these maps show that at least a few counties could be considered neglected. If you live in one of the well reported areas, we still want your records! However, if you decide to plan a weekend Odonata Adventure to get more county records with your name attached, consider going to one of the neglected regions in the maps. Later, I will try to do posts focusing on one county at a time, highlighting a place to check out.

How do I report records? See the tabs for Photo Submission and for Physical Collection protocols.

How did you make those maps? I’m glad you asked! The maps were made in R using packages ggmap, mapdata, and dplyr. I have uploaded both the R code and .csv file if you want to take your own shot at making maps.

Want to learn more about Odonata and the survey? Odo-Con-17 still has space available and we would love to see you there! It is June 23-25, 2017 and we would like it to be a great kick off event for the Ohio Odonata Survey.

If you have any other questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me at spring dot 99 at osu dot edu or on twitter @EntoSpring.



Odonata Species Richness versus Sample Effort* by County

As I work with the old Ohio Odonata Society (OOS) Database, I am trying to get an idea of which areas in Ohio need the most effort (and are most likely to have new county records). To do this, I compiled all of the data from the OOS database by County and documented the species richness known from that county and the approximate sample effort that has gone into that county (number of specimens/observations). The sample effort is a rather broad approximation as I know the OOS has moved towards only recording new county records in the past couple of years, but it still serves as a rough measuring stick for most of the counties.

The species richness and sample effort by County in Ohio

As you might predict, we find more species in counties with more sampling effort (see Species Area Curve for similar info: here for wiki and here for original article). However, you will notice that after a certain point you get diminishing returns for your sample effort (but returns nonetheless).

To get an idea what all of this looks like graphically, I also made maps of species richness by county using R.

This is the Odonata Species richness by county based on the OOS database as of Dec 2016. You can see “hotspots” of higher species richness that may indicate true higher species richness or be an artifact of sample effort.

This is the OOS database (as of Dec 2016) sample effort*, or at least approximately so. You can see that several regions have had many more observations than others, perhaps partly due to human population density and partly due to key Odonatologists living in those counties.

If you want more maps of Ohio, check out the species distribution tab to see where each of the 165 species were reported across Ohio. The species distribution maps also include vetted iNaturalist data (as of Dec 16), which has not yet been fully combined with the OOS database.


Below is the species richness and effort by county in a table, so you can quickly look up by individual county. Note that there are additional rows for counties that have ? after them. These data were included in the richness versus effort graph, but not in the county maps as I could not officially determine whether the records were from that county.

Side note: if you would like to replicate these maps, or alter them as you see fit, I have included the RCode (you will need R, RStudio, or compatible program) and the .csv datafile for the species richness and sample effort by county.

County Species Number Sample effort*
Adams 87 636
Allen 39 139
Ashland 94 929
Ashtabula 97 896
Athens 72 485
Auglaize 41 204
Belmont 40 245
Brown 41 111
Butler 68 635
Carroll 51 194
Champaign 78 1401
Clark 50 364
Clermont 49 412
Clinton 34 226
Columbiana 66 263
Coshocton 55 322
Crawford 38 173
Cuyahoga 81 407
Darke 54 169
Defiance 81 673
Delaware 78 568
Erie 80 1106
Fairfield 81 1106
Fayette 32 115
Franklin 101 2358
Fulton 48 156
Gallia 51 192
Geauga 104 1705
Greene 69 763
Guernsey 44 208
Hamilton 76 558
Hancock 67 277
Hardin 39 137
Harrison 39 100
Henry 37 69
Highland 47 215
Hocking 80 747
Holmes 56 388
Huron 45 121
Jackson 49 322
Jefferson 50 162
Knox 65 361
Lake 107 2335
Lawrence 43 132
Licking 94 1466
Logan 80 1390
Lorain 58 158
Lucas 101 587
Madison 45 340
Mahoning 59 130
Marion 40 67
Medina 71 257
Meigs 49 196
Mercer 40 115
Miami 67 439
Monroe 39 109
Montgomery 74 993
Montgomery ? 3 16
Morgan 54 292
Morgan/Athens ? 3 11
Morgan/Perry ? 1 1
Morrow 48 206
Muskingum 60 444
Muskingum ? 5 47
Noble 38 139
Ottawa 71 999
Ottawa ? 2 3
Paulding 86 1078
Perry 47 175
Pickaway 53 483
Pike 62 225
Pike ? 1 1
Portage 107 1104
Portage ? 8 40
Portage/Summit ? 1 2
Preble 37 172
Putnam 47 236
Putnam ? 1 5
Richland 67 131
Richland ? 1 2
Ross 60 467
Ross ? 1 2
Sandusky 35 201
Scioto 54 199
Scioto ? 2 2
Seneca 38 146
Shelby 43 184
Shelby ? 2 2
Stark 77 445
Summit 101 913
Summit ? 2 6
Trumbull 70 481
Tuscarawas 56 430
Union 41 258
Van Wert 38 99
Vinton 79 956
Vinton ? 2 3
WV Wood ? 1 2
Warren 50 525
Washington 66 930
Wayne 69 826
Wayne/Stark ? 3 5
Williams 112 2439
Wood 40 117
Wyandot 38 150
Wyandot  ? 1 3

Species Records by County: Muskingum Co.

As I try to get everything up and running, I will attempt to publish species/abundance lists for each county. This is an example page as I get more of the scripts working and access to more databases. These numbers and abundances are from the Ohio Odonata Society Database (current up to 2016), but I hope to get more compiled databases together.

I also wanted to start with my home county as an example, so here we have the lovely Muskingum county, home of the Y-bridge and many hardworking individuals.

Muskingum County is known for it’s unique Y-bridge and for once being the capital of Ohio, but you are sure to find some interesting Odonates if you search around the many waterways. Image courtesy of Chris Spring.

Muskingum County

Total number of species: 60

Total abundance of specimens in database: 444

Species List (Common names on right):

Aeshna constricta Lance-tipped Darner
Aeshna umbrosa Shadow Darner
Amphiagrion saucium Eastern Red Damsel
Anax junius Common Green Darner
Archilestes grandis Great Spreadwing
Argia apicalis Blue-fronted Dancer
Argia fumipennis violacea Violet Dancer
Argia sedula Blue-ringed Dancer
Argia tibialis Blue-tipped Dancer
Arigomphus villosipes Unicorn Clubtail
Basiaeschna janata Springtime Darner
Boyeria vinosa Fawn Darner
Calopteryx maculata Ebony Jewelwing
Celithemis elisa Calico Pennant
Celithemis eponina Halloween Pennant
Chromagrion conditum Aurora Damsel
Enallagma antennatum Rainbow Bluet
Enallagma aspersum Azure Bluet
Enallagma basidens Double-striped Bluet
Enallagma civile Familiar Bluet
Enallagma ebrium Marsh Bluet
Enallagma exsulans Stream Bluet
Enallagma geminatum Skimming Bluet
Enallagma signatum Orange Bluet
Enallagma traviatum westfalli Western Slender Bluet
Enallagma vesperum Vesper Bluet
Epiaeschna heros Swamp Darner
Epitheca cynosura Common Baskettail
Epitheca princeps Prince Baskettail
Erythemis simplicicollis Eastern Pondhawk
Gomphus exilis Lancet Clubtail
Gomphus fraternus Midland Clubtail
Gomphus lividus Ashy Clubtail
Gomphus vastus Cobra Clubtail
Hetaerina americana American Rubyspot
Ischnura posita Fragile Forktail
Ischnura verticalis Eastern Forktail
Lestes australis Southern Spreadwing
Lestes congener Spotted Spreadwing
Lestes dryas Emerald Spreadwing
Lestes eurinus Amber-winged Spreadwing
Lestes rectangularis Slender Spreadwing
Leucorrhinia intacta Dot-tailed Whiteface
Libellula cyanea Eastern Spangled Skimmer
Libellula luctuosa Widow Skimmer
Libellula pulchella Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Libellula semifasciata Painted Skimmer
Macromia i. illinoiensis Illinois River Cruiser
Macromia taeniolata Royal River Cruiser
Neurocordulia molesta Smoky Shadowdragon
Pachydiplax longipennis Blue Dasher
Perithemis tenera Eastern Amberwing
Plathemis lydia Common Whitetail
Stylurus spiniceps Arrow Clubtail
Sympetrum ambiguum Blue-faced Meadowhawk
Sympetrum obtrusum White-faced Meadowhawk
Sympetrum rubicundulum Ruby Meadowhawk
Sympetrum semicinctum Band-winged Meadowhawk
Sympetrum vicinum Autumn Meadowhawk
Tramea lacerata Black Saddlebags


So residents of Muskingum County (and visitors), have you seen any dragonflies and damselflies not on this list? Do you have a photo copy or specimen with date and precise location? If so, then you can contribute and make this list even more comprehensive! Please get in touch by sending an email to spring . 99 at osu . edu