Posted by: Bridgett Hernandez

  • 09/24/2021

Brothers document rare dragonflies on ACRES preserves

ACRES nature preserves provide researchers and citizen scientists with opportunities to study the natural world around us. By allowing scientists to work on ACRES properties, we gain knowledge from their findings that makes us better-informed stewards of the land.

Each day, these protected places serve as a setting for learning and discovery. In the coming weeks, we’ll share stories of the science happening throughout our service area. We hope these “Science Snapshots” inspire you to join ACRES in our mission to protect these places, for the benefit of all — today and forever.

Arrowhead spiketail by Matt Weldon

Brothers Mark and Matt Weldon are using photography to document dragonfly species at sites around the state, including ACRES preserves.

ACRES member Mark Weldon worked at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo from 1972 to 2016, when he retired. “For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in animals, plants, and the natural world,” he said.

Mark’s interest in dragonflies pairs well with his brother Matt’s passion for photographing them. “We found out that many species of dragonflies are quite rare in Indiana, and we were finding some of them, so we started to contribute the information of where we found them to the heritage database maintained by the Indiana Department of Nature Preserves.” They keep records on all rare plant and animal species for the state of Indiana. They also report sightings to a national database called Odonata Central, a citizen science website dedicated to dragonflies and damselflies. In 2020, the Weldon brothers documented sightings of two rare dragonfly species. At Vandolah Nature Preserve, Mark spotted an arrowhead spiketail, a species that had never been recorded in Allen County. Matt found gray petaltail dragonflies at Kokiwanee.

Gray petaltail dragonfly by Matt Weldon

“ACRES protects many sites in northeast Indiana, and many of these properties have some form of water on them, which dragonflies need to reproduce. We suspected that these properties would harbor many species of dragonflies, some that would be rare, and we have not been disappointed. If I had to use one word to describe ACRES properties, it would be diversity,” Mark said.

A big thank you to Mark and Matt Weldon for sharing their fascinating work with us!

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 ACRES Quarterly, mailed to members each season. The 20-page Quarterly features ACRES news, stories and events. You can subscribe by becoming an ACRES member with a donation of $20 or more. Click here to learn more!