The 13 Bugs of Christmas

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English carol that was probably borrowed from the French and that was originally an acapella chant/call-and-response/children’s memory game. It first appeared in writing in 1780, and there were (and still are) many variations of it, though the words were more-or-less standardized when an official melody was finally written for it in 1909.

Slaty Skimmer Dragonfly (Family Libellulidae)

Slaty Skimmers are one of three dragonflies in Wisconsin that are closely-related, very similar-looking, and very rare. Males are territorial and hostile, defending stretches of shoreline, and an approach by an intruding male results in aggressive displays, loop-the-loops, and chases. They are most active in the morning. Females are rarely seen at the water’s edge unless they’re in the mood, and they may breed while still in their juvenile coloration.

Seasonal Sights and Sounds

Everywhere you look, you see adult insects, young insects, and the kinds of activity that will result in them. Here are some sights from the BugLady’s walks in southeastern Wisconsin.

Arrow Clubtail (Family Gomphidae)

Arrow Clubtails (Stylurus spiniceps) are fairly-common/widespread-but-not-abundant inhabitants of the northeast quadrant of the U.S. They prefer good-sized rivers with muddy/sandy bottoms and with trees along the edges. Unlike the Pond clubtails, the Arrow clubtail is a Hanging clubtail, one of 11 North American species in the genus Stylurus.

Four-spotted Skimmer (Family Libellulidae)

The range of the Four-spotted Skimmer is circumpolar, and turns up in Asia and from European countries where it’s called the Four-spotted chaser. Its American range is listed as the northern half of North America. These are dragonflies of marshy lakes, fens, acid bogs, plant-filled ponds, and very slow streams. Adults are found over fields and along woody edges and they may form swarms over open water; juveniles are often seen far from water. They like to perch on emergent vegetation but are also found near or on the ground.

Three Spring Dragonflies Plus One

The 2016 dragonfly season is starting slowly—some migratory darners appeared a few weeks ago but then disappeared when colder weather came back. In the past week, the BugLady has seen a Common whitetail, a Chalk-fronted corporal, and some Whitefaces, plus a handful of damselflies. If you check the archives at the UWM Field Station link below, you’ll find that dragonflies have not been neglected.

Blue Dasher Dragonflies (Family Libellulidae)

The range of the Blue Dasher stretches across North America from British Columbia to Ontario, south (except for the Rockies and Dakotas) to California and Florida, with scenic side-trips into Mexico, the Bahamas, and Belize. According to the Wisconsin Odonata Survey, Blue dashers may have been extending their range north in the state in recent years.

Shadow Darners (Family Aeschnidae)

Shadow Darners (Aeshna umbrosa) live throughout most of North America (except the very southern edges of the U.S. and a few Rocky Mountain states), and their range stretches well north into the boreal forests of Canada. They’re found in a variety of wetlands, from the still waters of bogs, pools, and ditches, to slow streams.

Twelve Bugs of Christmas

The fourth Annual chorus of “The Twelve Bugs of Christmas,” the BugLady offers a Bakers’ Dozen of Bug Portraits that were taken this year but are unlikely to appear in future BOTWs because their stories have been told in past BOTWs (hence, the links, for BugFans who want to know “The Rest of the Story”).

Black Saddlebags Dragonfly (Family Libellulidae)

The Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) is found throughout the U.S., into Canada, and south of the border well into Mexico. Black Saddlebags also have a presence on the Hawai’ian and the Caribbean Islands. They choose fish-free still/stagnant/very slow-moving water with lots of vegetation for their nurseries and will oviposit in roadside ditches.