Thursday, July 5, 2012

Red Saddlebags update - breeding near Lake Superior.

Another quick note....on the Google Discussion Group Ont-Odes there is an evolving discussion about an unprecedented movement of Saddlebags (Tramea spp.) into Ontario this year. The appearance of the Red Saddlebags (T. onusta) on the north shore - a first - attests to the geographic breadth of the event.

This morning while walking our dog near a beaver pond in Marathon, I observed and subsequently netted a male Red Saddlebags. I photographed and released the individual and spent a few minutes watching the other odes present - Common Green Darner (2); Four-spotted Skimmer (20+); Twelve-spotted Skimmer (2); Chalk-fronted Corporal (9); Belted Whiteface (50+).

[click on images to enlarge]
Male Red Saddlebags. Marathon. July 5, 2012.
Five "red" saddlebags, two tandem pairs and single male, then appeared in the middle of the pond and the two females began ovipositing, both in tandem and while a male hover guarded. Wow!

Tramea, Marathon, July 5, 2012
The photos are admittedly poor but through binoculars I discerned the larger clear window in the hind wings of the three males, a characteristic of Red Saddlebags (T. onusta) and not the lookalike Carolina Saddlebags (T. carolina) which we haven't yet seen here in northern Ontario.

The beaver pond (48.73231, -86.38441) is about 200 m. at its widest and is no more than 2 m deep. The bottom is covered in a thick mat of Chara. This is the same site where I observed Common Green Darners laying eggs - a District first - in May of 2010. Its close proximity to the Lake Superior shore may contribute to its attractiveness to migrant skimmers and darners.

Update photo:
July 10, 2012. Marathon, ON.
July 18 addendum: Our sharp-eyed neighbours in nearby Michigan have taken note of the influx of these and several other libellulid species. Those with an interest in this phenomenon will enjoy Mark O'Brien's and Julie Craves' overview, Rare and uncommon saddlebags, wandering meadowhawks, and gliders galore and its significance to the Michigan Odonata Atlas project.


  1. I had a Red and a Black Saddlebags at Hurkett Cove in strong ssw wind this afternoon (june 13)

    Also 2 Green Darners present