Dragonflies Amongst the Dunes

I don’t know about you, but the beach is not the first place I’d expect to see lots of dragonflies.  I mean, dragonflies breed in fresh water, what are they doing spending so much time around salt water?  Yet the dunes and beach here seem to be crawling with them.  Recently I was really pleased to get my first-ever good photo of a dragonfly when one landed on the sand and miraculously held still while I crept up on it with my little camera.

Thinking that surely a dragonfly hanging out in this most undragonflyish habitat must be something unusual and cool (but lacking any odonate ID skills), I uploaded the photo to BugGuide, only to have someone tell me it’s a male Common Green Darner.  Which is, as the name suggests, very common.  Well, I still think it’s really pretty!

What I really found interesting was the conversation that ensued after the bug was identified.  I remarked that I found it odd to see dragonflies by the ocean and speculated that they must breed in the freshwater sloughs behind the dunes.  Tthe person who’d identified it replied that this species migrates south in the autumn, and the ones I’ve been seeing could perhaps be migrants.  Then someone else chimed in that they see a lot of these on beaches along Lake Michigan at this time of year, along with another dragonfly species, Black Saddlebags.  I looked up Black Saddlebags, and lo and behold that turned out to be the other species I’d noticed in the dunes here.  Who’d have thought that beaches along Lake Michigan and the Georgia Coast would share the same dragonfly species???  It must just be the sandy habitat they like.

In short, I love the internet, and the way it enables us to make connections like this.