What a beauty.
But not nearly as striking as her male counterpart.
The flame skimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata) owned a perch on a bamboo stake last Tuesday in residential Davis.
Davis resident Gary Zamzow, a dynamite insect photographer (especially bumble bees), pointed his Pentax camera at the insect, just inches away.
The dragonfly did not move.
“The female flame skimmers are not as intensely orange as the males are and they also have the expansions on the 7th abdominal tergite that you can see in your picture (below),” said senior museum entomologist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology (http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/), University of California, Davis.
If you like dragonflies, you may want to purchase a dragonfly poster at the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, or online at its gift shop. It features 18 species of dragonfies, ranging from the common whitetail and green darner to the Western river cruiser and the bison snaketail. And, of course the flame skimmer.
Entomology doctoral candidate Fran Keller designed the poster with images provided and donated to the museum by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis.
If you or someone in a household near you can draw a bug, then you need to head over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 15.
The Bohart Museum is hosting an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane. It's free and open to the public.
The theme: "Insects in Art."
The person (all ages invited) who submits the most creative bug drawing between 1 and 3:30 p.m. will win a t-shirt at around 4 p.m.
Here's what you do: draw a bug that will fit into a button about 2-1/4 wide. The Bohart Museum folks will insert it into their button-maker machine. If your bug art is selected as the most creative, you take the button home--and your prize, an insect-related t-shirt.
The open house will feature the illustrations of Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and professor of entomology at UC Davis; the late Mary Foley Benson of Davis; and Ivana Li, an undergraduate entomology student and president of the UC Davis Entomology Club.
Visitors also will be able to see the original plates for the children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by Fran Keller, doctoral candidate in entomology, and Laine Bauer, who received her degree in art in June from UC Davis. Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a Bohart volunteer, contributed photos.
Expanding on the open house theme, Heydon said that “Insects and Art” began as early as the caveman days. Cave drawings found in Spain depict honey gatherers from more than 10,000 years ago.
“Insects in art are found in scientific illustrations and are represented on fabric, paintings, toys, jewelry and other media,” Heydon said.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
In addition to the insect specimens, the Bohart houses a “live petting zoo” of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas; and a gift shop filled with t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, posters, insect nets, and insect-themed candy.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year so that families and others who cannot attend on the weekdays can do so on the weekends. The Bohart’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The remaining weekend open houses:
Sunday, Jan. 13, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Extreme Insects"
Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Biodiversity Museum Day"
Sunday, March 24, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Aquatic Insects"
Saturday, April 20: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Theme: UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 11, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Moth-er's Day"
Sunday, June 9, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "How to Find Insects"
It's a joy to watch these firecracker-red dragonflies (Libellula saturata) make their presence known. They dart over our fish pond, snatch an insect, and then perch on a tomato-plant stake to eat it.
Last year another generation did the same thing. They darted over our fish pond, snatched an insect, and then staked their claim in the vegetable garden. Over a tomato plant.
Most of the time the flame skimmers seem unaware of my presence. Guess they consider me neither prey nor predator.
If you love dragonflies, several years ago the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, created an educational poster, "Dragonflies of California," the work of doctoral candidate Fran Keller and naturalist/photographer Greg Kareofelas of Davis. It focuses on 18 dragonflies commonly found in the Golden State. The largest insect depicted in the poster is the Giant Darner (Anax walshinghami), but the most colorful just has to be...drum roll...the flame skimmer. But I'm biased.
Keller came up with these facts about dragonflies:
Ten fast facts about dragonflies, as provided by the Bohart Museum:
- Dragonflies date back before the dinosaur age.
- The largest known prehistoric species of dragonfly, living 300 million years ago, was the Meganeura monyi. Its wingspan measured more than two feet long.
- The largest species today is a South American dragonfly with a wingspan of 7.5 inches. The smallest modern species is an east Asian dragonfly, the libellulid dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea, with a wingspan of about 3/4 of an inch.
- California is home to approximately 108 species. More than 5000 species are found worldwide.
- Dragonflies help control pests such as mosquitoes, midges and flies, but will also dine on honey bees and butterflies.
- The adults feed by hawking their prey. They dart off a perch to catch prey and often return to the perch to eat.
- Most dragonflies live around lakes, ponds, streams, and marshes; their larvae, known as “nymphs,” are aquatic. Some dragonfly larvae live in bromeliad flowers.
- Dragonflies usually do not bite or sting humans, but if grasped by the abdomen, they may bite to escape.
- The dragonfly is thought to have better eyesight than any other insect. Its compound eyes take up much of the insect’s head. Each compound eye has up to 30,000 facets or sensor modules, arranged to provide nearly a 360-degree field of vision. That's why it's difficult to sneak up on them.
- Dragonflies are a common motif in Native American art, displayed on Zuni pottery, Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces. In Japan, they are considered symbols of courage, strength and happiness.
The Bohart Museum, home of more than seven million insects, is open year around, but is closed to the public on Friday. It's directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology att UC Davis.
But if you want to see dragonflies in The Great Outdoors, look for them near a body of water, whether it be a river, creek or...a fish pond in the back yard...
But this Sunday, June 3, something even more special "may" occur.
That's "may" because a California dogface butterfly "may" emerge from its chrysalis during the Bohart open house, set from 1 to 4 p.m. in 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive.
Naturalist-photographer Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart, will be showcasing some live California dogface butterflies--and a chrysalis.
Kareofelas is rearing several dogface butterflies (Zerene eurydice). The first adult emerged from its chrysalis on May 28. He’s hoping one will emerge during the open house.
Even if it doesn't, Kareofelas will be presenting a slide show of the butterfly's life cycle. (By the way, Sunday marks the last Bohart open house of the 2011-2012 academic year, and yes, it's free and open to the public.)
Several years ago Kareofelas and entomology doctoral candidate Fran Keller teamed to create a California dogface butterfly poster, which is available for sale in the museum's gift shop.
What about the state insect? What do we know about it?
The high-flying butterfly, found only in California, is rarely seen in the wild. Its main host plant is False indigo (Amorpha californica), a riparian shrub that grows among poison oak and willows and along stream banks, often in steep and isolated canyons. The male has markings on its wings resembling a silhouette of a dog's head. The female is usually solid yellow with a black spot on each upper wing.
The California State Legislature designated the California dogface butterfly as the state insect in 1972. An entomology society in Southern California first proposed this butterfly as the state insect in 1929, but nothing came of it until 1972 when a fourth grade class in Fresno petitioned their state representative, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
The California dogface butterfly display will be one of the two main attractions at the Bohart's open house, which is themed “Bug Light, Bug Bright, First Bug I See Tonight!” The other key attractions will be bugs that glow under ultraviolet light, according to museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Think scorpions. And don't forget that species of millipede found on Alcatraz Island. They glow, too!
Some folks wear their heart on their sleeve.
Others wear a dragonfly on their chest.
As part of its public outreach education program and to showcase the world of insects, the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the
The t-shirt, designed by entomology doctoral candidate Fran Keller, features the white-belted ringtail, also known as a gomphid dragonfly, from the family Gomphidae.
UC Davis undergraduate student William Yuen, a part-time employee at the Bohart, traced the insect from a photo taken by
The dragonfly also appears on the Bohart’s “California Dragonfly Poster,” the work of Keller and Kareofelas.
“William is an excellent artist, a brilliant student, a hard worker and has worked in the museum for two years,” said Keller. “I wanted to immortalize him and his talent and for his contributions to the museum.”
“This drawing is so precise you could identify this dragonfly by its wing venation,” Keller said. The insect order (Odonata), family, species name and common name appear beneath the wing.
Keller said more than 5000 species of dragonflies exist worldwide. “Dragonflies don’t harm people; they don’t bite or sting,” she said.
What else about dragonflies?
- Female dragonflies lay their eggs in or near water.
- They beat their wings about 30 beats per second (bps), compared to a honey bee’s 300 bps
- In both their larval and adult stages, dragonflies eat mosquitoes. The larvae eat mosquito nymphs and other insects. As adults, they grab mosquitoes and other insects in mid-air.
Proceeds will benefit the Bohart’s insect outreach education program. The museum, directed by entomologist Lynn Kimsey, chair of the Department of Entomology, is home to more than seven million specimens.
For more information, see http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/ or contact the museum at (530) 752-0493.