It’s true, anyone who has spent time during the summer months around inland lakes and beaches has enjoyed the company of dragonflies and damselflies. These beautiful insects are colorful, agile and downright fun to watch. Growing up in the Midwest, whiling away those hot, humid days at the lake shore, dragonflies exemplified summer as much as sunburns and the sounds of the ice cream truck!
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “No other group of animals – even birds – is as aerially adept as a dragonfly. They can travel forward, backward, and any other direction. Shifts in direction take place at lightning speed, and this agility makes dragonflies awesomely efficient aerial predators. And that’s what they’re doing on the wing – hunting a variety of other flying insects. Prey can range from small flies and mosquitoes, clear up to other dragonflies. Large species have even been observed capturing swallowtail butterflies!”
Ohio State Parks manages 59 beaches on 47 inland lakes across the Buckeye State. These inland bodies of water, along with the beaches of Lake Erie, streams, rivers, ponds, marshes and other wetlands, offer a multitude of exceptional places to spot dragonflies and damselflies. The ODNR states, “Lake Erie beaches seem to act as swarming areas for migratory dragonflies, which often gather along them in late summer and fall.”
There is an absolutely wonderful, free 76 page field guide entitled “The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ohio” made available online by the Department of Natural Resources. It’s packed with useful information and beautiful images. This booklet has everything you and your family need to help identify whether you’ve spotted a dragonfly or a damselfly, descriptions, habitats specific to each species, flight periods and area(s) of Ohio where you may find each one. It also includes a checklist of the 164 species of dragonflies and damselflies recorded to date in Ohio.
Now, there’s some summertime “homework” that I would have loved! How about you?