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Contributed by Len McKenzie, YAAS
The arrival of spring each year heralds a time of rebirth, renewal and the emergence of new life forms. Among the myriad plants and wildlife species that ornament, refresh and animate the spring landscape are the “odes” of the insect world, members of the order Odonata (“toothed ones”), more commonly known people as dragonflies and damselflies.
The Yosemite Area Audubon Society will feature these striking insects at its monthly program in Oakhurst Thursday, May 11. Tim Manolis, a noted artist, writer, and field biologist who earned his PhD from the University of Colorado and now lives in Sacramento, will present a slide talk, “Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Central Sierra Nevada” at 7 p.m. at the New Community United Methodist Church on Road 426 in Oakhurst.
Manolis’s presentation will spotlight representative dragonflies and damselflies in a cross-section through the Yosemite region. He will offer a basic introduction to dragon-fly biology and distribution, focusing on species from the foothills up into the higher reaches of the Sierra and down the east slope toward Mono Lake. A diversity of interesting species, ranging from desert to boreal forms, occur along this transect of the central state.
Characterized by long, slender abdomens, large eyes and predatory feeding habits, “odes” are among the most ancient insects on Earth. They spend most of their lives, up to several years, in the larval stage submerged in ponds and streams, eventually molting their skins, crawling out of the water and morphing directly into adults. Fast flyers (up to 100 body-lengths per second), adults capture smaller insects on the wing. They live for only a few months—to mate and for the females to deposit their eggs—and are often themselves victims of larger predators.
Tim Manolis is the author of “Dragonflies and Damselflies of California”, and the illustrator of “Field Guide to the Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions” and “Field Guide to Spiders of California and the Pacific Coast States”, all published by the University of California Press.
Like all Yosemite Area Audubon programs, Manolis’s presentation is open and free to the public, although donations to defray program costs and to support the chapter’s lo-cal activities are welcome. Call (209) 742-5579 or visit www.yosemiteaudubon.org for more information about the program and other activities and events offered by YAAS.
The mission of the National Audubon Society, the namesake of noted 19th-century naturalist and bird painter John James Audubon; its state affiliate, Audubon California; and local chapters such as the Yosemite Area Audubon Society is to conserve and re-store natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.