Dragonflies and Damselflies of Mountain Lakes
(Carpenter 1991; Nikula et al. 2003; Radis 2008).
More than “just insects”, dragonflies and damselflies are superbly adapted fliers that can rival and surpass the aerobatics of birds; and they predate the birds in the fossil record by at least a hundred and fifty million years. Sometimes called the “most elegant creatures in the class Insecta” (Carpenter 1991), dragonfly motifs appear in the art and artifacts of many cultures.
The group is also a very good indicator water quality, as part of its life cycle is aquatic: Areas with polluted water will have few or no odonates, and vice versa. Widespread study of this group is relatively recent, but certain areas of New Jersey are known to have remarkable odonate species diversity, particularly in parts of Morris and Sussex Counties. Dragonfly adults and nymphs consume large numbers of mosquitoes, and are important in mosquito control. Many more species occur in Mountain Lakes than are listed below.
Probable Odonates in Mountain Lakes
Species: Ebony Jewelwing
Scientific Name: Colopteryx maculata
Status in Mountain Lakes: Seen in past years along Troy Brook near Intervale Road. Common on the Rockaway River in Denville and Boonton Township.
Species: Wandering Glider
Scientific Name: Pantala flavescens
Status in Mountain Lakes: Seen several times in June and August, 2002 around the YMCA parking lot.
Comments: Accomplished fliers even compared to most other dragonfly species, Wandering Glider occurs in all continents except Antarctica, and is occasionally seen far out to sea.
Species: Calico Pennant
Scientific Name: Celithemis elisa
Status in Mountain Lakes: Probable; seen around the Tourne in past years.
Species: Halloween Pennant
Scientific Name: Celithemis eponina
Status in Mountain Lakes: Probable; frequently seen in surrounding towns around ponds and lakes.
Endangered Odonate Species in Mountain Lakes
Species: Lateral Bluet
Scientific Name: Enallagma laterale
State Status: Heritage Program rank S1S2, threatened/endangered.
Status in Mountain Lakes: Several individuals of this rare bluet damselfly were found in May, 2008 at the north end of Birchwood Lake.
Species: Comet Darner
Scientific Name: Anax longipes
State Status: Heritage Program rank S2S3l rare-threatened.
Status in Mountain Lakes: One was seen flying around Birchwood Lake in late August, 2008.
Comments: Uncommon throughout its range.
Scientific Name: Hagenius brevistylis
State Status: Heritage Program rank S3S4, rare-uncommon.
Status in Mountain Lakes: Seen at Mountain Lake in 1998.
Comments: The largest clubtail dragonfly in North America, this species aggressively preys on other species of dragonflies.