My two favorite things about my new job are brainstorming nature education programs and doing pond dipping presentations. Few things delight me more than sharing the life cycle of dragonflies with visitors. I meet the nicest people huddled over a tub of duckweed and squirming midge larvae.
So it was just right when a family with five little stair-step boys in matching orange striped shirts and baseball caps came to the pond dipping. The oldest would have been glad to take over scooping critters out of the wetlands with my net. The youngest was recently out of diapers, but could catch tiny mosquitofish with his fingers. Yes, he tended to squeeze the little fishies a bit too (lethally) hard.
This group of little guys, plus a dad, grandpa, and an uncle were the perfect audience when the pond dipping began to look like Marlin Perkins attacked by a crocodile on "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom". I had just identified and shown them a tiny damselfly larva when the smallest dragonfly larva captured and ate it. Then a bigger dragonfly larva caught the little one. After quite a "wrassle"* the big one ate the little one. The kids in striped shirts were looking through magnifying glasses and eating this up! It was real life, not a video game.
|Wee baby dragonfly larva with snail|
|Mama dragonfly larva|
|Big daddy dragonfly larva|
|Just right damselfly larva|
|REALLY big green chile dragonfly larva|
“I bet, with my net, I can get those Things yet!”
*Wrassle is an infrequently used spelling of the word wrestle, which is defined as to tussle with or physically fight with someone.
© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder