Help Untangle the
Mysteries of Migration
One August, a couple of years ago, friends came back from trips to Oregon's coast with the same question: What's up with all those dragonflies? They'd all noticed that the air over the beaches was full of thousands of red-colored dragonflies. The answer to their question was migration, variegated meadowhawks following the coast as they headed south for the winter.

dragonfly Most people are surprised at the idea of dragonflies migrating. Darting around their local pond, yes, but trekking hundreds or thousands of miles each year? But the common green darner and wandering glider migrate as far as the monarch butterfly, and the black saddlebags, variegated meadowhawk, and spot-winged glider also travel significant distances.

Millions of dragonflies journey between Canada, the United States, and Mexico each year. Naturalists have noted these migrations since the nineteenth century, as huge numbers of dragonflies can be seen flying south in the fall along both coasts and through the Midwest, but remarkably little is known about them. The northward return in spring is even more mysterious, because the dragonflies are less concentrated and more dispersed across the landscape.

dragonfly To help fill the knowledge gap, the Xerces Society joined with several other organizations across North America to found the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership. MDP partners are researching where dragonflies migrate, overwinter, and breed, and are documenting sightings of dragonflies from citizens across the continent.

There are two ways to get involved and help untangle the mysteries of dragonfly migration:
  • This fall, Xerces Society staffers Celeste Mazzacano and Michele Blackburn, in conjunction with world-renowned dragonfly experts, will lead a series of trainings for people wanting to learn more about these migrations. At the end of the day, attendees will be able to identify migratory species and contribute data to citizen science projects of MDP. Workshops will be held in Cape May, NJ (9/15), Austin, TX (9/29), and in Ontario, Canada (date TBD). Registration for all of these is via the Xerces events webpage. 
  • Watch what's happening around your local pond and report it to Dragonfly Pond Watch, a volunteer-based program of the MDP. No prior experience with dragonflies is needed to participate!  

We need your support in order to protect invertebrates and their habitat.

Red belted bumble bee Connect with Xerces on Facebook.

Connect with the Migratory Dragonfly Project too!
Dennis Paulson's eastern and western dragonfly field guides are both available in our store.

Visit the events page of our website for information on upcoming Xerces events. In addition to Pollinator Conservation Short Courses, we are now offering Migratory Dragonfly Short Courses.
Become a member today to receive your copy of the latest edition of our member magazine Wings.
Please email suzanne@xerces.org with any membership questions. 


Dashers (Micrathyria sp.) perching, by Celeste Mazzacano.    



Band-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata) and Sooty Saddlebags (Tramea binotata), by Celeste Mazzacano. 

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