What You Can See on April 18
Submitted by Ted Williams on Tue, 04/18/2006 - 07:05.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Damsels and Dragons Two hundred and fifty million years ago, even before the rise of dinosaurs, they patrolled steaming Carboniferous swamps on veined, translucent wings. As other life-forms vanished from our planet, these ancient predators prospered; today there are few places on earth where you can’t find at least one of some of the 5,000 species of Odonata—damselflies and their close relatives, dragonflies. Dragonflies have enormous eyes, while the eyes of damselflies are smaller and set more widely apart. Unlike dragonflies, which keep their wings open while resting, damselflies hold their wings together over their backs. With the first warm days of spring, Odonata nymphs crawl out of still and flowing water, climb whatever’s handy, and emerge as adults through splits in their skin. Look for them before they take flight as they rest beside their cast-off nymphal skins, pumping hardening fluid from their bloated bodies into veins in their still-soft wings. Soon they’ll be hawking insects and, according to some sources, showing good boys where the pickerel are and sewing the lips of bad ones shut.