Monday, June 12, 2006

Testing my Netting Skills

Thanks to a day off, I got a chance to try out my new insect net last Friday. I headed to Fairview Farm, the location of a field trip I am leading for NJ Audubon on July 15. First, I headed for the really nice butterfly garden that they have there. Unfortunately, there were ZERO butterflies to be found. A lot of the flowers in the garden were not in bloom yet, so that may explain it. I then headed to the edge of a large pond where I encountered many dragonflies coursing over the water along with some skippers dancing around the grasses along the edge.

I discovered pretty quickly that catching dragonflies wasn't going to be easy. Those little buggers are fast and smart! Well, maybe not smart, but perceptive. I would swipe pretty quickly with the net and they would dodge at the absolute last second. The first dragonfly I caught (not pictured) was a Unicorn Clubtail - a bug I had a hard time identifying from Lilypad Clubtail, so I went by the range maps. On that netting, I also caught a damselfly by accident! It turned out to be a Skimming Bluet - very tiny (sorry, also not pictured). I was pretty satisfied with my first netting and was excited about what I could find next. I walked the path around the pond and a pretty sizable dragonfly crossed in front of me and landed on a leaf. I quickly swept it up and identified it as my first Arrowhead Spiketail (pic below).

Arrowhead Spiketail

I let that guy go and moved on to the next catches. I was finding it difficult to catch the ones that were just slightly out of reach over the pond. Also, the damselflies were difficult to catch because they stayed extremely low to the water. I'd get a net full of muck if I wasn't careful. I eventually started to get the groove of it. I caught a few more dragonflies including Widow Skimmer (pic below), Eastern Pondhawk (pic also below), Common Baskettail. I also caught another damselfly - Eastern Forktail. On the butterfly front, I caught a European Skipper, American Lady, Cabbage White, and Little Wood Satyr.

I'm looking forward to going out to some other areas where a larger diversity of species occurs to hone my netting skills and to continue to learn some of the more evasive species. Enjoy the pics!

Widow Skimmer (Young male I think)

Eastern Pondhawk (Female)

Copulating Eastern Pondhawks

By the way, I saw Cirque Du Soleil's Corteo show last night in NY. It was awesome! Check out a Cirque Du Soleil show if you ever get the chance. I also heard a pheasant while walking towards the circus entrance


MojoMan said...

Very nice photos. I'm already starting to pay more attention to butterflies and dragon flies.

Are you familiar with the great insect shots at:


Mike said...

A pheasant on Randall's Island? Interesting.

Patrick Belardo said...


I thought it was pretty odd myself. It came from an area of construction material, trees, and long grass while walking towards the tents from the parking lot. This was directly under the bridge.

Julia said...

Great pictures!