Semper Fidelis - Semper Discentes

My First Entomological Expeditions in the Rockies

In Expeditions, Odonata on August 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Almost all the hubbub of moving, hauling, and unpacking is over, so I decided to sally forth on Tuesday and Wednesday, to see if I could locate any odonates here in Fremont County, Wyoming.  Almost ALL of the species I’m likely to encounter here are different than the ones I (more-or-less) had learned back in the Missouri Ozarks, so I’m starting all over again, with even WORSE taxonomic skills than before.

I drove south out of Lander, out toward the Sinks Canyon State Park, about six miles out of town.

This is what I get to look at, about five miles from my home.

This is what I get to look at, about five miles from my home.

The ubiquitous Popo Agie River, where I’d hoped to find lots of odonates, was pretty much a bust, as the water is very swift, full of large rocks, and has very little shoreside vegetation.

The  "rise" of the Popo Agie, Sinks Canyon State Park.

The “rise” of the Popo Agie, Sinks Canyon State Park.

After hitting a couple of sites n the river, I happened upon Central Wyoming College’s field station, just off the highway.  The Popo Agie runs through the station, but there is also a sweet little “seep” creek running through tall grasses on the property.  After swinging the net for a few minutes, I managed to capture two species of meadowhawks there, Sympetrum obtrusum (White-faced meadowhawk) and Sympetrum pallipes (Striped meadowhawk), both of which I believe are county records for Fremont County.

S. pallipes

S. pallipes

S. obtrusum

S. obtrusum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then hit a small creek crossing the highway, about halfway back to town and there found several specimens of the damselfly Ischnura perparva (Western forktail), as well as another meadowhawk Sympetrum semicinctum (Banded meadowhawk) in a nearby hayfield.  All the bugs were found at 5400-5600′ altitude, awfully high for this Louisiana-born geezer.

Ishnura perparva

Ishnura perparva

Sympetrum semicinctum

Sympetrum semicinctum

The following day, I decided to range further afield, passing by the previous day’s collection sites, heading higher into the beautiful Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Climbing higher into the Winds, still only about ten miles from home.

Climbing higher into the Winds, still only about ten miles from home.

DSCF3615

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Shoshone National Forest, I found a lake, Worthen Meadow Reservoir,  In a small arm of the beautiful lake, kinda semi-marshy, with some pondside vegetation, I managed to grab four beautiful male Lake darners (Aeschna eremita), at 8871 feet above sea level, by far the highest altitude I’d EVER attained.

Aeshna eremita (male)

Aeshna eremita (male)

Same bug, dorsal view.

Same bug, dorsal view.

 

 

Isn’t that a FINE looking fellow?

 

 

On the way home, stopped back at the field station and grabbed a couple more of the previous day’s meadowhawks.  Later in the day, I grabbed Amanda and Susan, taking them back out into the field and up into the Winds, where I showed them Worthen Meadow Lake, and we explored another lake, Fiddler Lake, which lies at some 9400′ altitude.  Felt like I needed a couple of Sherpas and some supplemental oxygen.  Our apartment is at about 5500′ and I’ve not noticed any headaches or ailments in my first days as a Wyomingite, although I DO tend to get sleepy about ten o’clock in the morning.  Very dry, too.  I’ve lived my entire life in humid climates, and this is a BIG change.

As always, all my odonate specimens have been posted to Odonata Central (www.odonatacentral.org), and I’m grateful to Jim Johnson, one of the northwest’s premier “bug guys” for confirming the identity of the species.  I got about 75% of them right on the first try, which is GREAT for me.  Bob DuBois’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Rocky Mountains and Dennis Paulson’s indispensible Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West are gonna get a BIG workout here.

Come see us.

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