Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Damsels and Dragons

by Cheryl Morris-Putman

On Thursday, September 15 at 7:30 pm, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will begin a new season of natural history lectures relating to the theme “Wild Creature Close-Ups.” This event will take place in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, Ontario.

The guest speaker for the evening is Provincial Arthropod Zoologist and lifelong naturalist, Colin Jones. His presentation is entitled “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ontario.

Have you ever wandered along a path skirting a wetland or enjoyed a relaxing stroll along a riverbank or lakeside beach and felt yourself entering a special place? You hear the sounds of water, the songs of birds, and the rustling of leaves. And then, as you relax further and ponder your surroundings, your attention is drawn to the sunlight glistening off the wings of a beautiful dragonfly or damselfly, silently skimming the surface of the water.

Colin Jones will allow us to enter the mystical world of these enchanting creatures, and will enable us to distinguish between the two. Dragonflies and damselflies are two related suborders that make up the insect order Odonata. Although similar in many ways, there are subtle differences. We will be introduced to such fascinating individuals as the Ebony Jewelwing and the Stygian Shadowdragon. These insects are not only an important part of our ecosystem, but are exciting to watch and become familiar with. Colin’s presentation will include photographs and discussion that will outline the life cycles, conservation, and habitats of the dragonflies and damselflies of Ontario.

Colin is the Provincial Arthropod Zoologist at the Natural Heritage Information Centre, which is located in Peterborough and is under the auspices of Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The Centre staff members conduct research and surveys in the field for priority species and areas across Ontario. The centre collects, reviews, manages and distributes information for species of conservation concern, rare and exemplary plant communities, wildlife concentration areas, and natural areas.

In his career, Colin deals primarily with rare species. His interest in the natural world first focused on birds and birding but gradually he expanded his horizons to include many other studies in nature. Over the past 25 years, he has become more involved in the study of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). He is coordinator of the Ontario Odonata Atlas project and is the co-author of “A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and Surrounding Area”, now in its second edition.

Please join us for this interesting and informative presentation. Refreshments and discussion will follow the talk. There is a non-member fee of $5; free for youth 18 and under. Colin will bring along copies of the field guide described above as well as “The ROM Field Guide to the Butterflies of Ontario”, which he co-authored. These books sell for $25 each. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley ().

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