Some birds migrate. So do salmon. Even Monarch butterflies float to better climates. But did you know that some dragonflies migrate too? This month on Outdoor Radio, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra are joined by dragonfly expert Bryan Pfeiffer at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier in an effort to find and maybe catch a migrant dragonfly.
The late summer heat and humidity has brought a huge influx of Wandering Gliders to Vermont. These migratory dragonflies follow weather patterns and storm systems, allowing them to cross great distances. The Wandering Glider is the global insect long-distance champion, with some making flights across the Indian Ocean that cover twice the distance of Monarch butterfly migrations here in North America.
Dragonfly migrations have been observed on every continent except Antarctica, with some species performing spectacular long-distance mass movements. Here in North America, we may have as many as 18 migratory dragonfly species; some engage in annual seasonal migrations, while others are more sporadic migrants. In late summer and fall, thousands to millions of dragonflies move from southward.
Also in this podcast, Sara and Kent discuss how they’ve tracked the migratory patterns of Green Darner dragonflies by examining the chemistry of their wings. They’ve found dragonflies in Florida whose chemistry comes from the waters of New England, and vice versa. The results reveal in detail their continent-wide annual migrations each year that rival the Monarch butterfly!
Listen to the show and keep your eyes on the skies for migrant dragonflies!
Listen to the show
- Visit the Vermont Dragonfly and Damselfly Atlas at the Vermont Atlas of Life and learn more about the Wandering Glider and other dragonflies.
- Add your observations of those and other wildlife to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist and help us learn more.
- Read a short introduction about migrating dragonflies by the Xerces Society.
- Watch a TedTalk about a population of Wandering Glider that travels from India to Africa and back each year.
- Visit North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier.
Outdoor Radio is produced in collaboration with Vermont Public Radio.