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Not noticing many dragonflies along Little Crum Creek, I happily spotted this large visitor perched vertically on a window screen.

Hoping to get a better look, I placed it on a pokeweed leaf in the mid-morning sun. Here it gradually wakened before zipping off into the woodland shadows.

Based on colors, size, perch, season, and apparent preference for shade and late day flight, it seems most like a female Shadow Darner  (Aeshna umbrosa). This widespread dragonfly likes the stream-side shade for hunting insects and laying eggs in rotting wood.

In fact, the dragonfly’s life cycle is a significant indicator of a stream’s health.  Hatched nymphs of many species will spend eleven months or more under water, shedding their skins several times before finally emerging for just a month or so of adult flight.

With improving streams and various species emerging at different times throughout the spring, summer, and fall, we could someday see a lot more dragonflies around here.

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