Dragonflies and Damselflies: Learning New Skills and Making New Friends

By Morgan McClary

In 2007 and 2008, Anne was trained and participated in the NYS Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey, which documented the distribution of all Odonata species in NY. These data in turn were to be used in the development of the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for New York State.

After her retirement in 2006, Anne began volunteering at the Landis Arboretum. Throughout her tenure as a volunteer, Anne has worked pretty much every job at the Arb at one time or another. Now, she coordinates the volunteers. Anne started giving classes in 2009.

“I love teaching and the Arboretum,” Anne said.

Anne Donelly works with children at Landis Arboretum.

During the class, which takes place every summer, participants received a diagram which aided in identifying the difference between a dragonfly and damselfly.​ Anne also had books that were handy for identification. She explained that although both insects are of the taxonomic order Odonata, differences -- such as how they hold their wings at rest -- can help you distinguish them. Dragonflies hold their wings horizontally, perpendicular to their body, while damselflies wings are held along their body at rest.

“Go to the pond, stand very still, and get your eyes used to it,” Anne told the group as they anxiously awaited making their first catch.

Sisters Millie and Kensi Browning were experienced at catching insects. Their nets quickly swooped between the cattails that lined the pond.

Laurel Tormey of Altamont caught a damselfly that Anne was able to identify as a blue-fronted dancer.

“I’ve been wanting to learn about dragonflies. I’ve tried on my own, but then I decided to come here,” Laurel said.

Anne sat on a picnic table as participants brought their catches over for her to help identify. After catching and releasing many dragonflies and damselflies, the group walked over to explore a new location—the Willow Pond.

Madeline observes a dragonfly.

The class brought Amanda Wyckoff and her family of East Berne to the Arboretum for the first time.

“My mother said ‘let’s go’. We’ve never went to something like this before,” Amanda said.

Sandy Tasse also brought her kids to the class. Ayrton and Miranda Tasse could be seen standing near the edge of the pond, intently watching their surroundings to make their next catch.

“We came two years ago because my daughter really likes bugs, so we drove an hour here to come back,” Sandy said.

Participants spent approximately two hours catching and learning about dragonflies and damselflies. By the end of the class, the same children who were quiet strangers before the event could be seen frolicking with new friends, nets in hand.

“I’ve done several classes, but this is my favorite,” Anne said. “Especially if I get kids to participate!”


Fall 2021

Volume 39 , Number 3

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Jun 19, 2024

Don't Miss These Upcoming Activities at Landis!

Our calendar is well stocked with great things to do this year, but we wanted... read more

Jun 19, 2024

Don't Miss These Upcoming Activities at Landis!

Our calendar is well stocked with great things to do this year, but we wanted... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Sam McClary

The Arboretum’s Battle Against Invasive Species

Invasive plants are defined as plants that are not native to an environment that, once... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Fred Breglia

From the Director’s Desk: Where to See a Big Tree -- Locally! (Part

So you want to see a “Big Tree” but aren’t sure where to start? As... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Anita Sanchez

A Close Encounter of the Wasp Kind

​​​​​​​​One bright morning last summer, after an hour of pottering in the garden, I decided... read more

Jun 19, 2024 | Erin McKenna Breglia

From the Garden: The Ever Popular, Low Maintenance Iris

Derived from the Greek word for “rainbow“ and a frequent subject of artist Vincent Van... read more

News Archive