Odonates of Montana - July 2016

I'm grouping all my Odonate observations from my Montana trip so that I can find them easier, and also so I hope folks might be able to help me ID things a bit faster. :-)

I was and still am pretty unfamiliar with Dragons and Damsels in the north, and before going on this trip I looked on iNat and was surprised to find that there were only about 25 observations from the entire state. Seems there is a hole in the USA for Odonates on iNat! Odonate Central lists many more records for the state, but many of them lack photos, so I was still not quite sure what I would see.

With this in mind, I set a silly goal of doubling the number of iNat Odonate observations while on this trip.

As luck would have it (or not, for Ode hunting), I spent much of my time at higher altitudes on a caving expedition, and the weather was pretty cold and rainy the entire time - not great for finding these guys. I also think that the higher altitude was too early in the season for them. I did see a couple damselfly larvae in a mid-elevation stream, but never saw any adults.

In any event, I'll keep working on IDs for my unknowns, but if @jimjohnson , @greglasley, @scottking, or anyone else who might be familiar with this area has the time to look at some of these, I sure would appreciate it.

Posted by beschwar beschwar, July 31, 2016 19:35

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Tule Bluet (Enallagma carunculatum)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 4, 2016 10:44 AM CDT

Description

Two females - I think this is the correct ID.

Photos / Sounds

What

Sinuous Snaketail (Ophiogomphus occidentis)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 2016

Description

My first snaketail!

Found in a back yard, perching on or near the ground in a sunny patch of straw mulch and dead poppy stalks

Photos / Sounds

What

Pale Snaketail (Ophiogomphus severus)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 4, 2016 10:44 AM CDT

Description

First time seeing this species! I think the ID is correct, based on iNat observations and photos. Sadly, I was unable to get a really nice photo from the front side view.

Perching on the ground in a dry grazed field with dead grass and scattered wildflowers.

There may have been two individuals here, or I may have just found the same one twice.

Photos / Sounds

What

Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 5, 2016

Description

Unfortunately, I could not get a good lateral view of this one, but I think this ID is correct.

Photos / Sounds

What

Pacific Forktail (Ischnura cervula)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 5, 2016

Description

These 11 photos seem to illustrate the color diversity in the males and females of this species, which really amazed me. Until I started trying to ID them, I assumed that all these were probably 2 or more species. This species was the most common damselfly seen in this area, with at least 200 seen during my wanderings.

I am assuming that my IDs are correct for all the photos, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong!

Photos / Sounds

What

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 5, 2016

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 5, 2016

Description

Three individuals - two males and one female - were seen around the park.

Photos / Sounds

What

Eight-spotted Skimmer (Libellula forensis)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 5, 2016

Description

My first time seeing this species!

Photos / Sounds

What

Hawkers and Typical Darners (Genus Aeshna)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 5, 2016

Description

This was the only Darner I saw in the park, and it spent 5 minutes flying around in the street near a parked car. I was only able to snap these few crummy photos. I suspect that they are not good enough to ID this one, but I am not familiar with Darners in this area, so perhaps there are only one or two options.

My first guess is that it is a female Variable Darner.

Photos / Sounds

What

Bluets (Genus Enallagma)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 5, 2016

Description

I'm not familiar with odonates in this area, but this is my best guess on the ID for this one. This individual seems to have much more convoluted patterns on S5-6 than I see in most other photos, but perhaps this is not a diagnostic feature of the species. Or I could simply be wrong. :-)

Photos / Sounds

What

Tule Bluet (Enallagma carunculatum)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

The most common damselfly seen here today. I believe that all the photos are of this species, of both sexes, and at different stages of maturity.

Photos / Sounds

What

Forktails (Genus Ischnura)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

I'm not certain that this is a forktail, but I don't know what it is. This was the only damselfly I saw here that looked like this.

Photos / Sounds

What

Pacific Forktail (Ischnura cervula)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

Several were seen.

Photos / Sounds

What

Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

I think this is in the correct genus, but I have not seen this dragon before.

Quite a few teneral dragonflies that I believe were different species/sexes of Sympetrum were sheltering from strong winds in the tall grass in this area.

Photos / Sounds

What

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

I think this is in the correct genus, but I have not seen this dragon before.

Quite a few teneral dragonflies that I believe were different species/sexes of Sympetrum were sheltering from strong winds in the tall grass in this area.

Photos / Sounds

What

Saffron-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum costiferum)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

I think this is in the correct genus, but I have not seen this dragon before.

Photos / Sounds

What

Lyre-tipped Spreadwing (Lestes unguiculatus)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

A single female. This was the only Lestes I saw here.

Photos / Sounds

What

Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

Several adults were seen flying, and these two teneral individuals were found sheltered in tall grasses.

Photos / Sounds

What

Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

A few individuals and one mating pair were seen.

Photos / Sounds

What

Bluets (Genus Enallagma)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

Only a couple of these were seen.

Photos / Sounds

What

Saffron-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum costiferum)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

I think this ID is correct.

Quite a few teneral dragonflies that I believe were different species/sexes of Sympetrum were sheltering from strong winds in the tall grass in this area.

Photos / Sounds

What

Whitefaces (Genus Leucorrhinia)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

I think this is in the correct genus, but I have not seen this dragon before.

Quite a few teneral dragonflies that I believe were different species/sexes of Sympetrum were sheltering from strong winds in the tall grass in this area.

Photos / Sounds

What

Forktails (Genus Ischnura)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

A single individual of this species/sex was seen very briefly in tall grass. I was unable to get better angles or photos, but perhaps someone will be able to suggest an ID from this photo.

Photos / Sounds

What

Darners (Family Aeshnidae)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

A single horrible photo that I can't ID from, but I did manage to see a Darner in Montana!

Photos / Sounds

What

Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum)

Observer

beschwar

Date

July 16, 2016

Description

I think this is in the correct ID.

Quite a few teneral dragonflies that I believe were different species/sexes of Sympetrum were sheltering from strong winds in the tall grass in this area.

Comments

I'll look at these eventually Ben, but I'm in Trinidad with iffy and slow Internet until the 9th of Aug. and lots of damsels in Montana will be really tough for me.

Posted by greglasley over 5 years ago (Flag)

Hi Ben, I'm just back from a family vacation to Wyoming. The return trip brought us through southeastern Montana, kept looking longingly at the Yellowstone River and the cattle ponds passing, but didn't have a chance to stop and look for dragonflies. Found just a few in Wyoming, where it was hot and dry and had been for a long time.

Posted by scottking over 5 years ago (Flag)

Hello Scott,

Sounds like it was a fun trip, even without stopping at every good habitat. I know! Every time I drove by wetlands or ponds in Montana or Nevada on our recent trip, I just wanted to get out and look for Odonates. :-) I did manage to find some, and a number of new species for me, so I was happy. There were surprisingly few Odonate observations in MT on iNaturalist _ I think I came close to doubling the number.

Thanks very much for your IDs and help with some of my new species. I appreciate it.

Posted by beschwar over 5 years ago (Flag)

Here's a link to Nate Kohler's Montana online guide. I think there were very few Odonata Central records until Nate came along. It's astonishing how much ground he has covered!

http://fieldguide.mt.gov/displayFamily.aspx?order=Odonata

Posted by scottking over 5 years ago (Flag)

good idea for grouping observations for a trip this way, hadn't thought of this.

Posted by taogirl over 5 years ago (Flag)

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