Dragonfly Pond Watch Project
Dragonfly Pond Watch is a volunteer-based project of the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP). Observers collect seasonal information at local ponds on a regular basis to monitor the presence, emergence, and behaviors of migrant and resident populations of migratory species. These investigations will expand our understanding of the local life histories of migrant and resident populations and of the timing and location of dragonfly migration.
The MDP needs your help to contribute to our growing knowledge of dragonfly migration! Click on a photo below to learn about the five focal dragonfly species and continue reading to see how to participate in MDP’s Dragonfly Pond Watch Project.
Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata)
Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea)
Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)
How to Get Started
Visit your pond site and record your observations on our Sample Data Sheet to ensure you collect all requested data.
Download Sample Data Sheet.
Log into the MDP website or create an account. If you already have an Odonata Central account, your OC username and password will automatically allow you to log on to the MDP site.
Log on to MDP!
Add your PondWatch site
From the MDP website navigate to “Observations > Enter New Pond Watch Observation.” Fill in your collected data and information about your Pond Watch site.
Add more observations
Now that you’ve registered your Pond Watch site, you can record additional observations by navigating to “Observations > My Observations.”
Check out current and previous migratory dragonfly sightings. Click on the map to view the interactive map at the MDP website.
Stable Isotope Project
Stable isotopes of hydrogen in the dragonfly wings and nymphal exuviae are being analyzed to investigate patterns of dragonfly movement north and south in North America. Contribute specimens to inform research into a dragonfly’s travels from the site where it developed and emerged. Learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Dragonfly Pond Watch?
Dragonfly Pond Watch is a volunteer-based program of the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) to investigate the annual movements of five major migratory dragonfly species in North America: Common Green Darner (Anax junius), Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata), Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens), Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea), and Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). By visiting the same wetland or pond site on a regular basis, participants will be placed to note the arrival of migrant dragonflies moving south in the fall or north in the spring, as well as to record when the first resident adults of these species emerge in the spring. Download a flyer about the Pond Watch Project and other MDP projects here.
Why monitor ponds?
Collecting seasonal information at local ponds will increase our knowledge of the timing and location of dragonfly migration across North America, especially for spring migrants returning north, and expand our understanding of the relationship between migrant and resident populations within the same species.
Who can participate?
Anyone with regular access to a pond or wetland who has an interest in dragonflies and would like to contribute to our growing knowledge about dragonfly migration in North America.
How can I get involved?
Select a local pond or ponds of your choice to make observations for any of the five focal species: Common Green Darner, Black Saddlebags, Wandering Glider, Spot-winged Glider, and Variegated Meadowhawk. Make regular visits to your selected site; the frequency of site visits is your choice, but please try to make observations at least once per month. Record data on your location, dragonfly species presence/absence, and when possible, capture photo vouchers. There is no prescribed survey or monitoring method; simply visit your local pond(s) and make observations of the five target species during the time you have available. For additional information about the project, pond selection, and data collection please see the Resources section below.
What if I witness a directed migratory flight at my Pond Watch site in the fall?
Data collected on a fall migratory flight should be entered as a Migration Monitoring observation; regardless of your location. On the MDP website, you can navigate to “Observations > Enter New Migratory Observation” and then choose your saved locality when asked to “Choose a locality”. Continue to enter requested information on the migratory flight
Do I need experience to participate?
No prior experience with dragonflies is needed–recognizing these five species is easy to learn! Check out the MDP Field Guide to Migratory Dragonflies to start learning how to identify these species. Visit the photo gallery at OdonataCentral to see an array of photos of Common Green Darner, Black Saddlebags, Wandering Glider, Spot-winged Glider, and Variegated Meadowhawk.
What if I make a mistake entering my data?
Currently there is not a way for users to go back and edit their records. We are working on adding that functionality, but in the meantime, if you make a mistake, just e-mail us at [email protected] and we will correct it for you.
Can I edit the information about my locality once it has been entered and saved?
Absolutely. At the top of the home page, go to Localities and select Manage Localities. A table will appear that contains all localies you have created. Click on the locality name in the table and it will display the site information. Click on the Edit button in the lower right border of the text box and you will be able to change any parameters you wish. Just remember to click the Update button at the lower right once you’ve finished to save the changes!
What if I visit my pond 2 weeks in a row and I don’t see any of the migratory species?
Observations of either presence OR absence should be reported! Since we are monitoring migration timing, movement of migrants, and emergence of residents, it’s just as important for us to know when the species aren’t at your site as when they are present.
I’m seeing a lot of other cool dragonflies and damselflies at my pond in addition to the main migratory species. Is there any place I can record that data?
If you have clear photographs of additional pond species and can make even a tentative species identification, you can submit your data to OdonataCentral (www.odonatacentral.org), a citizen science project designed to investigate the distribution, biogeography, and diversity of dragonflies and damselflies in the New World. OdonataCentral and MDP are actually sister web sites; visit OC to find out more—and check out the extensive photo galleries for lots of great images of our target migratory species!
Field Guide for Migratory DragonfliesBy D. Paulson, J. Abbot, M. May, M. Blackburn, and C. Mazzacano
The Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) produced this printable online adult dragonfly identification guide to assist project participants in identifying our five focal species. Read more.