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Advanced Dragonfly and Damselfly ID

Schedule and location

Friday, July 10, 2020
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Thornhill Education Center

Fees and Registration

$39.00 member
$46.00 nonmember
(Fees include admission to the Arboretum)
BY PHONE: 630-719-2468 ( Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Course description

Join us for an interactive day of learning in both the laboratory and in the field as we delve further into the development, classification, ecology and morphology of the insect order Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies).

Ever wonder what happens after a dragonfly lays her eggs, what goes on beneath the water, that time between oviposition and eclosion? This significant period of a dragonfly’s life cycle is also the longest, ranging from six weeks to six years! We’ll begin this session with an image intensive introduction to the growth and development of dragonflies including video of dragonfly eggs hatching, nymphs feeding, respiring and more. 

We’ll examine dragonfly nymphs under dissecting microscopes to see firsthand the old axiom ‘form follows function’ and to better understand specific aquatic habitat selection and preference. By the end of this program you’ll be able to identify dragonfly nymphs to family and many to genus. We’ll also study several difficult to distinguish groups of adult dragonflies in microscopic detail and learn detailed diagnostic characters for them.

Next, we will head out to the field with both aerial and dip nets to identify in-hand specimens of both nymphs and adults, revealing the ties that bind a species to a given aquatic habitat.

In addition to the typical field gear (binoculars, clipboard, aerial net, bug spray, hat and water bottle) don’t forget to bring your loupes and water shoes or waterproof knee boots - we will be getting wet.

Course number



Marla Garrison, biologist

Marla Garrison is a biology faculty member at McHenry County College. She sat on the Executive Council of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas for six years, was the Principle Investigator on a USFWS Section 6 grant for the federally-endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, and is the author of Damselflies of Chicagoland, a local area field guide available online as a free download through Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. She is currently completing her second field guide, Dragonfly Nymphs of Northern Illinois, and conducts field studies and surveys in McHenry County and throughout the state of Illinois.

Course details

Notes: Held indoors and outdoors. Dress for the weather. Wear long pants and bring water shoes or waterproof, knee-high boots. Bring a water bottle and a snack (or a lunch).  Limit 18
Prerequisites: Beginning Dragonfly and Damselfly ID (N036) or the equivalent basics of dragonfly/damselfly characteristics and habitat.

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