Saturday, April 26, 2014

Odies: Dragonflies and the Dragonfly Fan Club

Dragonflies are in the Order of the Odonata, and fans of the dragonfly are called Odies! I am an Odie, a fan of the dragonfly. I search for them for hours so I can take a photograph. This amazing creature followed me around my garden in Texas for nearly an hour before landing for a photograph! 
Photo by Darla Sue Dollman, and this post is dedicate to Oliver Bunnell. (P.S., it can take hours of patient waiting to catch a dragonfly on a twig as they are fast and busy critters, so please don't swipe my photographs without asking permission unless you are one of my grandchildren.) 

Dragonfly in Loveland, Colorado. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

My daughter spotted this beauty. We were at the Sculpture Park in Loveland, Colorado. My grandchildren were riding their bicycles around the park and I was searching for dragonflies to photograph. I said, "I don't think I'm going to find any today," and my daughter replied, "you are looking right at one. It's on the stick right in front of you!" Sure enough, there was a nearly invisibly dragonfly perched so close I could have touched it! I love the faces on dragonflies. They always appear to be smiling! 

Dragonfly near Springer, New Mexico. I love this sparkling beauty! Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Dragonflies are insects in the order Odonata, suborder Epiprocta, infraorder Anisoptera. Follow that? It doesn't matter. Let's just say they are the coolest bugs on the planet! They have four wings that stay spread flat even when they land--if they fold across the back then you are not looking at a dragonfly, you're looking at a damselfly, which has a head that somewhat resembles a robot (square-shaped) and is also very cool. 

Dragonfly in Kingsland, Texas. One of my favorite photos. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Dragonflies have six legs, but they cannot walk very well at all. That's why it's hard to catch them holding still long enough for a photograph. You will usually find them on a blade of tall grass or a twig sticking out of the ground--a thin twig. It is easier for them to grasp and hang onto a blade of grass or thin branch. They can fly amazing well, though. In fact, dragonflies are one of the fastest flying insects in the world! 

I found this beauty at my father's house. I was telling him about my fascination with photographing dragonflies and he said, "Oh, do you mean like this critter over here?" and he nodded at the post beside us where this lovely dragonfly was glittering gold in the sunlight. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Two years ago there was a horrible forest fire near the homes of many of my family members in Colorado and their land was destroyed, but thankfully no one lost their homes. They were evacuated into nearby Loveland, though. 

I believe it's possible this is a damselfly because of the upraised wings, but it's hard to tell from behind. If you have an opinion, please let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you! 
Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

I was visiting at the time and my grandchildren and their aunt and uncles decided to visit a nearby park. While we were there we suddenly noticed dozens and dozens of dragonflies moving over our heads. They were coming in waves that didn't seem they would ever stop. They didn't stop to rest and I believe they were headed for nearby Lake Loveland. I think they were coming from Horsetooth Reservoir and may have been chased out by the smoke and seeking safer ground. It was fascinating to see so many dragonflies. I've never seen anything like it before or since. 

Another one of my favorites. This one was in Loveland, Colorado, and also had a golden line on its body that glistened in the sunlight. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Dragonflies are what's known as beneficial insects because they eat mosquitoes, flies, ants, and other bugs that are considered a nuisance. However, they have also been known to eat bees, which are important to the cycle of life in swamp land and rarely, if they are terribly hungry, they have been seen eating butterflies. 

Another shimmering beauty in Loveland, Colorado. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Dragonflies are usually found near lakes, ponds, and wetlands. I search for them when I see tall grasses near water. Their larvae are known as nymphs and stay in the water until the crack their shells. They generally battle for life with frogs and toads, fish, spiders, and even larger dragonflies. 

A better view of the black dragonfly. It sure was a beauty! Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

In the A to Z Challenge, O is for the Order of the Odonata, or Odies, fans of the Dragonfly! 


Joy V. Smith said...

I've always liked dragonflies, and I love seeing them flying in a pattern.

Darla Sue Dollman said...

That's interesting that you said that, Joy. I've noticed it, too. In fact, sometimes I've noticed I feel a bit dizzy watching them fly around and around and around in a pattern while I'm trying to see where they land to get a picture! Lol! Have you ever felt as if they were watching you? Sometimes they come up close to my face like they're looking at me. We had a huge swarm in Texas once, too, and my stepson stepped outside and had eight or nine of them land on his body--THAT was cool!

Liz A. said...

My mother still calls dragonflies "Evinrude".

Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

Maria Dunn said...

Good for you, Darla Sue. Keep going. You'll finish this challenge. I learn something every time I come here. I am not a big dragonfly lover, but you photos are so beautiful, even they are appealing. You'll have to share what kind of camera you use for such sharp, beautiful photos. I know it has a lot to do with the photographer, but it would be nice to know. Keep up the posts. Maria, Delight Directed Living

Darla Sue Dollman said...

I have a nice camera now, but I think that first photo was taken with my cell phone! Lol! Thanks for the compliments. I keep trying. Some day I will be the photographer I want to be. Some day, I might finish this challenge on time, too! :-)