Chicago Seeing A Boon Of Dragonflies

CHICAGO (CBS) — The dragonfly population in the Chicago area has exploded in recent days, and one local expert said it’s likely tied to the large mosquito population.

The dragonflies have been everywhere; buzzing cyclists and joggers on the Lakefront Trail, swarming city parks, and creating a sideshow at Lollapalooza.

Dragonflies were swarming around the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Tuesday, and curator of biology Doug Taron said he hasn’t seen this many of the flying insects in years.

“Right here, on this hill, we frequently see feeding swarms,” he said.

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Taron said dragonflies are showing up about a month earlier than usual, especially green darners, one of the most common dragonfly species in North America.

“Green darners are having a huge population boom at the moment,” he said. “They’re feeding. They’re hunting for small insects, including mosquitos.”

Like mosquitos, green darner dragonflies start out their life in water, and when they’re larvae, they eat larval mosquitos. Adult dragonflies then feed on adult mosquitos

“They control mosquitos at multiple points in their lifecycle, which is why I think dragonflies are just wonderful creatures. They look big and scary, but they’re not going to hurt you,” Taron said.

Taron researches the migration of dragonflies, and offered a theory on why there are so many in Chicago this year: all the rain in June helped boost the mosquito population, creating more food for dragonflies.

“Green darner dragonflies start out as aquatic insects, and so do mosquitos. I’m thinking, perhaps, there was more food for the nymphs earlier this year,” he said.

The swarms aren’t lost on the Chicago beach crowd.

“Sometimes I like to sit out and watch the sunset by the lake, and they kind of dive by you and get in the way,” said Ally Lieb.

“I saw one that I think may have been hit by a car,” said Jerry Hoffschmidt. “I picked it up and I’m going to mail it to my daughter who’s very interested in this.”

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