In Search of Dragons and Damsels

Two More Dragonfly Walks Offered This Summer

July 13, 2015

People of all ages enjoyed capturing and identifying dragonflies and damselflies.

Did you know there are more than 160 species of dragonflies and damselflies in New Hampshire?

Last week, I joined Forest Society staffer Carrie Deegan and her husband Andy Deegan, who works for the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust, for an exploration of dragonflies on the Merrimack River Outdoor Education and Conservation Area (The Floodplain) in Concord. This walk was the first in a three-part series offered this summer. Carrie and Andy both volunteered for the New Hampshire Dragonfly Survey, a citizen science effort led by N.H. Audubon from 2007 to 2011, that sought to catalog the distribution of dragonfly species in New Hampshire. 

Among the participants were children as young as 5 with their parents, a family with teenagers and 20-somethings, and two local teachers. As the groups arrived, Carrie, Andy, and their son Aiden emerged from the trail holding damselflies and dragonflies. Carrie and Andy took turns explaining the differences between dragonflies and damselflies, their biological components and behavior. After the introduction, two visiting children took turns letting the insects go. The kids held out their fingers, and the bugs briefly held on until they gathered enough energy to take off. The kids laughed and watched as the small creatures flew away.

Before we ventured onto the trail, Carrie handed each person a net and showed us how to properly catch and trap the insects without harming them. Then we walked along the riverbank trying our luck at catching them.  


The most successful catcher was Carrie and Andy’s son Aiden, who has had many years of experience with this skill. Each "dragon" caught was then studied, held harmlessly by the wings, and then released. We followed the 1.5-mile Les Clark Nature Trail into an open meadow. Here we found many dragonflies roaming the fields and everyone attempted to catch them. Throughout the two-hour walk the group was able to see more than a dozen species including Ebony Jewelwing, Eastern Forktail, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Dot-tailed Whiteface, Spotted Skimmer, Slaty Skimmer, Spangled Skimmer, and various bluets and spreadwings. I was amazed to find that there were that many different kinds of dragonflies and damselflies in one area! We finished the walk along the Merrimack River and looped back around to the parking lot.

This dragonfly walk was sponsored by the Forest Society, and the following two this summer will be sponsored by the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust. The next walk will take place on the Blitzer property in Bradford, N.H., Tuesday, July 28 (rain date, Friday, July 31) from 2 to 4 p.m. The third walk will take place at Russell Pond in Sutton, N.H., in cooperation with the Sutton Conservation Commission on Wednesday, Aug. 5 (rain date, Aug. 7) from 2 to 4 p.m.


More details for the events can be found on To RSVP, call the Ausbon Sargent office at 526-6555 or email them at These events are limited to 25 people, with no walk-ins, so please register early!

For questions, please contact Carrie Deegan at