Del Norte’s stealthy flyers

By Kelley Atherton, The Triplicate June 08, 2012 12:00 am

The Cardinal Meadowhawk is one of the dragonflies documented in Del Norte County. Photo courtesy Ron LeValley
The Cardinal Meadowhawk is one of the dragonflies documented in Del Norte County. Photo courtesy Ron LeValley
Dragonflies are an under-surveyed species in Del Norte County, but locals have a chance to change that Sunday.

Wildlife biologist Sandra Hunt will give a presentation on dragonflies and damselflies, taking participants on a walk to ponds around the Lake Earl Wildlife Area to catch a glimpse of the winged insects.

Hunt said she’ll be giving a quick overview of dragonflies and explaining the difference between them and damselflies (they’re a little bit more delicate and hold their wings differently).

Dragonflies live near water and eat other insects, including pesky mosquitoes.

Hunt said she will focus on dragonflies and damselflies that live on the coast in Del Norte.

But this county only has 20 or so documented species of dragonflies while surrounding counties have more than 60, Hunt said. That’s not because there are fewer species here, they just haven’t been documented, she said.

“Del Norte is one of the least surveyed counties in California,” Hunt said. “My impetus for doing a talk is to get more interest so we can start documenting species that exist there.”

That low number could increase later this summer.

Dragonfly enthusiasts from all over the state will descend on Del Norte in August to search for and document every species possible.

“We’ll have a bunch of people who all they’ll do for four days is look for dragonflies and document dragonflies,” Hunt said.

Dragonflies are increasingly popular with wildlife observers, she said.

For a long time, it’s been birds that naturalists have been interested in viewing and documenting, Hunt said. Then butterflies were all the rage, but in the last several years there’s been momentum building to survey dragonflies.

“It’s one of those evolving fields right now,” Hunt said.

Sunday is the time to learn more about dragonflies and get involved with documenting all the different species that live here.

Those interested should meet at the Lake Earl Wildlife Area Information Center on Old Mill Road at 1 p.m., wear comfortable walking shoes and bring snacks, water and mosquito repellent.

Other upcoming summer nature events include:

• June 17, “Big Dune Beach Grass Pulling, 1–4 p.m., with Tolowa Dunes Stewards.

Spend an enjoyable afternoon learning about the many native plant species of Tolowa Dunes.

Assist with restoration by hand pulling invasive beach grass, which is the most effective way to eradicate it.

This is a moderate activity. Bring water and sunscreen, a hat, gloves and a shovel if you have them.

• June 24, “Dune Ecology,”  1–4 p.m., with Andrea Pickart, U.S. Forest Service ecologist.

Join one of the nation’s foremost dune ecologists to learn about coastal dune formation and ecology.

A talk followed by a 2-mile hike will visit a variety of habitats, unusual plant communities, rare dune wildflowers, and restoration areas. Wear comfortable walking shoes. 

All events are sponsored by the Redwood Parks Association and Tolowa Dunes Stewards, in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Game and California State Parks

For more information, call   465-6191.

Reach Kelley Atherton at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


• WHAT: “Introduction to Dragonflies”

• WHEN: Sunday, 1-4 p.m.

• WHERE: Lake Earl Wildlife Area Information Center, 291 Old Mill Road