A Dragonfly for Halloween!

halloweenHappy Halloween! In honor of the holiday, I present a Jack-O-Lantern of an insect, the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina). This beautiful orange-brown Dragonfly was photographed near a pond at Nishna Bend county park, Shelby County. I found this example of a “mosquito hawk” buzzing around (likely actively feeding on other insects,) but I was fortunate to have one perch long enough for a photograph.

That’s some striking coloration! Should have been easy enough to identify, but not for me—not in my area of expertise. A fun lesson of this blog is that we have a network of fellow naturalists, kind and generous and authoritative. I’ve made corrections (or, clarifications) to some of these blog entries as those more knowledgeable than I have helpfully suggested I take another look at my ID or help me better understand the biology I was observing. Really, the naturalist community are fine people. Faithful reader John V has written me about the blog, and when I approached him about this dragonfly, he was pleased to help. You can find some of his other contributions on Buguide.net and much other cool stuff, too.

Unlike the Halloween frights, my fellow naturalists aren’t scary at all, as it turns out. Well—maybe just a little? I present a bit of dramatic taxidermy from the nature center at Nishna Bend:

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And the displays included other flora and fauna. Some of it is almost artistic in the aesthetic, such a fish montage featuring local species:

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Know what else might be found at the Nishna Bend wetlands? Osprey! This is a theme from earlier blog posts: “what is a wetland species?,” more complicated than might be at first supposed, because wetlands support, directly or indirectly, many organisms. So perhaps a bluebird or an owl can be a “wetland species.” In a similar way, the Osprey flies around the wetland, and may find tasty fish in the water. The workers at Nishna Bend have thoughtfully provided a nesting platform in case the birds like this wetland well enough to settle down and raise a family!

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I admired the ecological habitats and the educational displays, but let’s not forget that wetlands can be beautiful, and let’s appreciate that too. On the high ground overlooking the wetlands is a patio with a stunning view. On a hot summer day, months ago, I admired the vista with a cold drink and an appreciation for another great Iowa wetland. Thanks for visiting with me!

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Author: Paul Weihe

Associate Professor of Biology at Central College, traditional author (Textbook of Limnology, Cole & Weihe, 5th ed.; Waveland Press), and now...blogger!

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