“Rare” Dragons – The Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata)

Let’s talk about a weird dragonfly in Ohio. First officially documented in 1992, we have no earlier records of the Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata).

The only one I have seen wasn’t very cooperative. I have a single out of focus shot, followed by several attempts to net it.


Due to its limited range and poor documentation, the Blue Corporal was considered worthy of listing as a species in trouble. Thus, it gained status as State Endangered in Ohio.

And it is not like people weren’t looking for dragonflies in Ohio. In the 1990’s, there was a dedicated attempt to survey the state, which is part of why we know it is here now. They also looked through museum records and publications, but the earliest record was still 1992.

The 1990’s Ohio Odonata Survey ended in the 1990s (surprise) and then effort to look for dragonflies in Ohio waned. Then I got my job as the State Coordinator of the Ohio Dragonfly Survey in the spring of 2017. Now there are lots of amazing volunteers out photographing dragons!

And guess what? Those Blue Corporals? In the last few years, we have had many people documenting them! The numbers are still somewhat low, but last year we found 51 of them!!




What’s more, now that we have enough observations, we can start to understand the regionality of the species. Oddly enough, the Blue Corporal is mostly documented south of Interstate 70.

Map of the iNaturalist records for Ladona deplanata as of Jan 30, 2019.

We also do not see many observations in the eastern most portion of southern Ohio. Perhaps in part because we have very few people surveying there. Tie in the fact that this species flies mainly in April and May, means a very limited window to document.

Should this species still be listed as State Endangered? I’m not sure and that isn’t my call to make at this time. I am happy to see it showing up in many more spots. Hopefully, we will get more people out this year to document them even better!


Do you think you have seen one? Submit it to iNaturalist so we can confirm the record and add it to our database!


ID tips: 
The Blue Corporal males have a wide thorax and abdomen that is a light or slate blue. The base of the hindwings is diagnostic, with a splash of black. You might mistake a male Blue Corporal for an Eastern Pondhawk (has a green face and white cerci), Blue Dasher (black tip of the abdomen, generally skinnier), or Slaty Skimmer (darker blue body, generally skinnier, perches off the ground). All of the similar species fly later in the season and are less likely to be found in April/May in Ohio. Females look similar to baskettails with a mostly brown body, but also are generally wider.

From Left to Right: Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher, and Slaty Skimmer. These are some of our more common blue dragonflies in Ohio, present at most lakes and ponds midsummer.




Ohio Dragonfly Conference registration live!

The 2019 Ohio Dragonfly Conference registration is now live! Both the registration form and all of the conference information can be found on the following webpage:

It is set to be a great conference this year in Rio Grande, Ohio (southern Ohio) on May 31st – June 2nd. We hope to see the state Endangered species of Blue Corporals and Uhler’s Sundragons among many other cool species.

This is a conference for beginners and advanced alike. We will have introductory identification presentation for those new to the world of dragonflies, followed by several more in depth presentations on identification and ecology.

There will be plenty of other fun presentations including some on photography, gardening for dragonflies, and local natural history.

Our keynote speaker is Michael Moore!

Michael Moore is a research biologist who investigates how animal life cycles and mating interactions adapt to different environments. Michael has studied a diverse suite of animals in regions all across the United States—including dragonflies, amphibians, fish, and ladybugs. Michael received a B.S. from Gonzaga University, a M.S. from Murray State University, and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. Beginning later this summer, he will be starting as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Living Earth Collaborative—a new center for biodiversity research at Washington University, the St. Louis Zoo, and the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

He will talk about his recent research on Blue Dashers and using iNaturalist to unravel national differences in the population.

We will have guided field trips on Saturday where we get out to find potentially cool dragons and apply our new skills. Field trips will be to local habitats including wildlife areas and state parks.

Registration cost is $40 for regular attendees and $10 for students.


Don’t wait! Register now and save your spot today!


Oh, and did I mention we also plan to have moth sheets in the evening after the main conference? Join us to learn about dragons, but also maximize your cool insect time to see other cool insects at night!

Or maybe documenting native stink bugs or rove beetles is more up your alley? Regardless, there will be cool things to see and people there who will be able to explain why they are cool.

Wanted: Dragonfly wings

To the Ohio Birding Community:
Have you watched a bird eat a dragonfly and then seen them drop the wings on the ground? These wings are valuable scientific material and can help document species (even without the rest of the body). The Ohio Dragonfly Survey is looking for dragonfly wings to add to our knowledge of our 170 species across Ohio.

These wings are from a Common Green Darner (Anax junius). The main veins and overall shape help differentiate it from other dragonflies.

If you do decide to collect dragonfly wings from bird prey piles, make sure of the following:
 1) you do not disturb the birds in the area (walk back later if they are hanging around),
2) you have permission to take physical material from your location,
3) you write down the collection information. Typical collection information includes date collected, location collected, your name, and other notes (such as eaten by x species). More information on collecting specimens can be found on our physical collections protocol page.

Physical specimens or wings can be mailed MaLisa Spring at the following address
ATTN: MaLisa Spring
Museum of Biological Diversity
1315 Kinnear Road
Columbus, Ohio 43212

Whole dragonflies and damselflies caught in spider webs or in grills of cars are also welcome to be submitted to the survey.

Many dragonflies end up as prey in spider webs. Most spiders cannot eat the entire dragonfly or the husk of the dragonfly is left over.

These are dragonflies that were found dead on a road in Minnesota. The group were foraging for prey and did not do well with the incoming traffic. These were collected by concerned Odonatatologists on a single night along a small stretch of road.

These dragons were unlucky enough to meet their end with the front of a car. Be sure to check your grill before each stop. You never know what you will find! Even locality data of “somewhere in Ohio” is better than no data.

Photos of live dragonflies and damselflies also very welcome and can be submitted to
If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to us.

End of Season Update: 2018

Thanks to our many volunteers, we have surpassed 32,000 photo observations on iNaturalist! We owe a lot to our many volunteer photographers and identifiers. Without you, we would only just be getting started surveying Ohio. In comparison, the survey in the 1990’s only had about 30,000 records, including numbers extracted from older publications. In two years, were were able to double a decades worth of work!

For those reading this blog, but not getting the emails, photo and specimen observations are due December 1st of this year. Anything submitted after that might not make it onto next years maps, but we still want your observations regardless of submission date.

Cool records for the year:

Jim Lemon and I published a short note in Argia 30:3 about some weird oddities. A population of Jade Clubtails and Paiute Dancers were found in Ohio. We also had weird errant records of  one Scarlet Skimmer and Rambur’s Forktail found at aquatic plants distributors. Lots of other cool things were found this year, so I recommend reading the full article.

This Scarlet Skimmer is our first “non-native” dragon that originates from Asia. A large population is known in Florida, but not many have made it outside of the state so far.

Outreach Updates:

I have been trying to visit locations across the state, both to survey and spread the word so others know to submit observations. Thus, last year I made several outreach materials, which can be found on the resources page. These include things like wanted posters, silhouette ID guides for damselflies and dragonflies, and links to presentations from past years. Since the weather has cooled down, I have started on more outreach materials. The first of the series is below, but there will likely be more graphics changes to make them look more appealing, and hopefully get parks to post them up on boards.



Anyways, that is all for now. If you have any specific requests or questions, feel free to reach out to me at spring . 99 at

New Season, New Resources!

Hi Everyone,

After feedback from attendees of various presentations, I have created a silhouette identification guide for damselflies in Ohio. A dragonfly guide is forthcoming, but I figured I would start with the easier group first. The guide is mainly to differentiate families and give you a starting place of where to look for species groups. This guide and many others are also available on the Resources page of this website.

As always, best of luck and find some cool Odes!


Current Odes to watch:

Painted Skimmers; Blue Corporals; Baskettails; Swamp, Harlequin, and Springtime Darners; Carolina Saddlebags; Eastern Red Damsel; Aurora Damsel; Sedge and Sphagnum Sprite; and Rainbow Bluets

Aurora damsels did not get many reportings in 2017, but keep an eye out! They have a distinct back pattern with no thoracic stripes and no eye spots! A few people have seen them so far this year.

Spring is here! Time for spring training and materials!

We have official reports of both dragonflies and damselflies now that it has officially warmed up. With both Common Green Darners (Anax junius) and Eastern Forktails (Ischnura verticalis), we are well on our way to seeing some cool things!

There are lots of upcoming events happening. This Thursday (April 26) we are having a spring training for central Ohio residents. If you can’t make it, (or even if you can), I also recommend registering for Odo-Con-18 on June 22-24, which will be our largest Odonata themed event in the state. We hope everyone has fun at our events and learns something new. These events are also times to get supplies and meet with regional coordinators. We have identification resources, species lists, maps, and collection materials for those who request it in advance.

We have started our press release push, with articles in The Dispatch and If you know anyone at your local newspaper who might be interested in publishing an article on the survey, let us know. We have a statewide press release available on our resources page, but we can write articles directed towards specific regions. We also have a variety of information handouts including general survey background, a wanted poster, Swift Setwing Factsheet, and Hine’s Emerald Factsheet.

To get you started for the year, I wanted to point out several changes to our website. We have updated all county list pages that are broken down by geographic region. (Central, Northeastern, Northwestern, Southeastern, and Southwestern). You can view the list of known species by county, but also the species documented in neighboring counties that have yet to be found. This is a good way to target groups and rack up county records.

We also updated all species range maps with the help of thousands of observations submitted via iNaturalist last year. These species range maps are available in an annotated pdf that prints off well in grey-scale. For those curious, we also have flight distribution charts to help you learn when to look for species that are either early, mid, or late season fliers.

Finally, I have made a printable all Ohio Dragonfly Checklist (as pdf or Excel) and an All Ohio Damselfly Checklist (as pdf or Excel). These can be used in the field or at home to get excited about finding other species. Think you have found a threatened or endangered species? Let us know!

– We are up to 85 registered attendees for Odo-Con in June! If you haven’t registered, there is still time, but we are capped at 125 attendees.
– Interested in joining other natural projects? There is a new Ohio Tiger Beetle group on iNaturalist! There are several really cool species of these shiny, predatory beetles (and a few endangered ones) that you might encounter while looking for dragonflies and damselflies. The Ohio Bee Atlas is also looking for more observations of bees on flowers, so don’t be afraid to turn your cameras from dragons to beetles to bees and back again.
Let us know if you have any questions and happy searching!

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: 

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,  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.