How to Tame Your Dragonfly

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Fawns are cute. Flies are irritating. Bees and snakes are sometimes startling. Turtles are fun. Fish are slimy. Ants are busy. Dragonflies are…

“Awesome.”

That’s from Kevin Munroe, the site manager at Huntley Meadows Park. Dragonflies don’t stir the suburbanite’s emotions as some wildlife does, but if you haven’t looked closely at them then you’ve missed some of the most electric colors in nature. Some of these guys could shame a rainbow.

And other than the Tasmanian devil, is there an animal out there with a cooler name? Snap a sharp picture of one of these fliers, and you’ve tamed a dragon.

Munroe has looked closely at dragonflies and has the website to prove it. After 10 years of piecing it together and with help from his webmaster, Huntley Meadows Assistant Naturalist PJ Dunn, Munroe has produced Dragonflies of Northern Virginia at www.dragonfliesnva.com/. It’s a website designed “to encourage appreciation and sustainable conservation of Northern Virginia’s dragonflies and their habitats.”

Munroe’s put together a website that will hold your hand and guide you step-by-step through learning about dragonflies. There are photos, many taken by Munroe and Huntley Meadows volunteers, from Huntley Meadows Park, Riverbend, Lake Fairfax, Sully Woodlands, Clifton Road Park and other places where dragonflies can be seen. Huntley Meadows Visitor Services Manager Karen Sheffield and Audubon Society volunteer Jim Waggener both contributed to a chart of flight times and dates that helps you discover when certain species take to the air and can be spotted. There are tips on where to look, when to look, and how to look for dragonflies. There are conservation tips and lists of public programs about them. And, of course, it includes a list of best places to find dragonflies.

Push your personal limits a bit further by taking on the website’s identification challenge, and keep an eye on the site. In 2015 there will be a series of additions, including lists of the most common suburban dragonflies, quick ID thumbnail photos for the dragonfly novice, and several new species recently sighted in the area.

The next time you visit a park, stroll along a county sidewalk or venture into your yard, keep an eye out for dragonflies and try to note their differences. Maybe create a list to track the species you see.

Remember that they’re another valued natural resource of Fairfax County.

“Dragonflies are incredible teaching tools,” says Munroe. “Almost every ecological principal can be illustrated with these guys. They are such excellent ambassadors and springboards into environmental education and conservation.”

Author Dave Ochs is the Manager of Stewardship Communications for the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Resource Management Division.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 11 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2008. Another Park Bond Referendum will be held in November 2012. Today, the Park Authority has 420 parks on approximately 23,168 acres of land. We offer 371 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park System is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: o Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist. o Eight golf courses including Laurel Hill, our newest, upscale course and clubhouse located in Southern Fairfax County o Five nature and visitor centers. Also seven Off-Leash Dog Activity areas o Several lakes including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax o The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter o Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel o An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter o Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel o Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent o A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly o A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale o Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community o Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center o Provides 274 athletic fields, including 30 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 500 school athletic fields PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: • A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

One thought on “How to Tame Your Dragonfly

  1. Vera

    what a wonderful contribution. I’m a huge dragon and damselfly fan, and have managed to find a way to tame them. When I go to visit my favourite streams here in southern France, they come to me and sit on my outstretched hands and fingers: I have even managed to tickle their abdomens, they love it! They stick their abdomens up in the air when I caress them. It has been a thrilling experience for me, I feel so blessed to know these beautiful, fragile creatures and so grateful they have allowed me get to know them better.

    Reply

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