15-21 May 2000

Installment #---Visitor #

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Photo © Hilton Pond Center

  • After spending the winter as aquatic larvae on the bottom of Hilton Pond, several species of dragonflies begin to emerge about mid-May. These fascinating insects have four membranous wings held up by a strong mesh-like network of veins. (Notice in the photo above the massive thoracic area that houses the muscles to which the wings are attached.) Dragonflies vary from tiny inch-long types to big darners that have bodies nearly six inches long. (They're still a lot smaller than their ancestors in the Carboniferous Era, when some dragonflies had wingspans of up to two feet!) Contrary to myth, dragonflies cannot sting with their tails, although some larger ones can gently pinch you with their biting mouthparts. Except when they get occasionally get caught in mist nets used to trap birds, dragonflies are most welcome at Hilton Pond Center, where they patrol back and forth, using their front legs to grab much-less-welcome mosquitoes. An individual dragonfly can eat dozens of mosquitoes each day, which makes any night-time stroll along the pond a lot more pleasant.
  • The dragonfly in the photo above is a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis), one of the Common Skimmers (Libellulidae). Males of this species have pale, chalky blue bodies.
All photos © Hilton Pond Center

White-eyed Vireo
(notch near bill tip is typical of vireos)

Brown-headed Cowbird (female)
(nondescript brown body, short black beak)

Blackpoll Warbler (male)
(Bright yellow legs are diagnostic)

Plus the following species not pictured (or pictured on other weekly pages):

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Northern Parula
Red-eyed Vireo
Great Crested Flycatcher
Wood Thrush
Blue Grosbeak
Downy Woodpecker
Brown Thrasher
American Robin
Common Grackle

All photos © Hilton Pond Center

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.