Pest control

Earlier today, while wandering along and through Cranberry Run, I ran into a bit of déjà vu (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know…it’s not like the phenomenon’s a fog bank or a brick wall, but there you have it; I “ran into” it). See, thirteen years ago, back when digital cameras were really just making serious inroads, I decided to give photography another go. I was working for a local paper and they’d supplied me with an Olympus C2100 — basically a no-brainer digital point-and-shoot —  and I pretty much kept that thing with me all the time. So, one day I’m walking down by the stream and I see this damselfly perched all nice and interesting-like on a broad grape leaf. So I shoot it, photographically speaking. At the time, I was ridiculously proud of this shot, arguably my first foray into anything like nature photography. And despite its obvious flaws, I still like it.

Here it is.

Ebony Jewel Wing

So, anyway, getting back to the déjà vu experience, today I see this ebony jewelwing damselfly parked in a raspberry bramble and I think, “You know, that seems awfully familiar.” So I shoot it, photographically speaking, again and again and again, obsessively trying to get it right. I mean, I’m standing there for probably ten minutes shooting this damselfly, and while I’m standing there, the mosquitoes are massing an attack.

Am I worried?

Nope. Not one bit.

The reason I’m able to stand there for ten minutes and work at getting a decent shot (not that I ever really got one) is because, every little bit, that damselfly is leaping from his perch to snatch a mosquito. After grabbing one, he (and yes, he’s a he, just like the damselfly from thirteen years ago is a she) parks himself right back where he was, dines and then waits for another shot at a mosquito.

Pest Control

Using an analogy that Steven Spielberg would understand, basically I’m the chum, the mosquito is the shark and the damselfly is either Roy Scheider or Robert Shaw, take your pick.

Only in this version of Jaws, the shark never stands a chance.

insectile Jaws

 

 

 

Live and Learn

As with nearly every other environmentally-minded organization that I can think of, a big part of The Quarry Farm’s mission is education. We hold teacher workshops here, host programs both in-class and on-site for school groups, conduct tours for civic organizations and offer hands-on, guided workshops in organic gardening, water quality assessment, macroinvertebrate identification and a wide variety of other similar programming.

Yesterday, the shoe was on the other foot.

Representatives of The Quarry Farm attended the annual meeting of the Ohio Odonata Society (http://www.marietta.edu/~odonata/officers.html) in the Buehner Center at Oak Openings Metropark (http://www.metroparkstoledo.com/metro/parksandplaces/index.asp?page_id=510). Highlighting the day’s events were trips to two sites where participants photographed and collected odonates.

Bob Restifo, secretary-treasurer for the Ohio Odonata Society, examines a Prince Baskettail.

Now I suppose that there are a few of you feeling more than a bit smug right now since you already know what an odonate is. For those of you who don’t have nearly as much spare time as the aforementioned, we’re talking about dragonflies and damselflies. And they were teeming. While we did see more than a few species that we have yet to record here at The Quarry

Cedar Waxwing

Farm, such as the Unicorn Clubtail and the Prince Baskettail, most are common visitors and residents along Cranberry Run, in the eleven-acre back field and on the quarry. Among the more common species were Blue Dashers, Black Saddlebag, Common Whitetail, Widow and Twelve-spots. What wasn’t nearly as common were the sheer numbers of dragonflies, both in the number of different species present and the number of individuals within those species. And with that increase in numbers came a similar increase in the activity of animals that feed on odonates. Bullfrogs leapt from wetlands and cedar waxwings swooped over grasses snatching these aerial predators for their own meals. In fact, at one of the two sites the cedar waxwings clearly used us to improve their chances of catching a quick bite. They stalked us as we walked the verge of a wetland, waiting until we’d disturbed newly hatched dragonflies from their hiding places and then catching them as they flitted up and away.

Bullfrogs leapt from the water to prey on passing odonates.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Ohio Odonata Society for the opportunity to spend a day in such an interesting fashion. We’d also like to single out three men in particular:  providing a great deal of insight and information were Bob Restifo, secretary-treasurer of the OOS, and Bob Glotzhober, member at large and a former president of the society, both of whom have spent decades studying and collecting odonates; we’d also like to thank Dave Betts, without whose input we’d have missed this incredible opportunity.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.