Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Dobsonfly???

Driving the kids to a park for a picnic after summer school, I stopped to get some gas for our van. While fueling up, I scanned my surroundings, passing the time away. Ho, hum. Woe! What on earth is that??? Right below my hand hanging out on the hose was a huge winged insect, about 5 inches in length! It was unlike anything I had ever encountered, before. This docile creature continued resting quietly as I gazed at it. My oldest daughter handed me my camera and the photo session began!

Getting back into my vehicle, I was about to pull away when thoughts of how someone else might react when they encountered this insect stopped me. If they freaked, which would be easy to do, there was no telling what its fate might be—or the person’s--if I left it there.

I quickly got out of the van and gently coaxed this giant into an empty Parmesan container I keep with me for occasions just like this. (Honestly, I do rescue bugs! Just ask my family and friends!) Handing it to my 11 year old son, he empathetically studied this awesome creature. “Cool, huh?!” I said. He nodded in agreement.

“Mom, I think he’s getting scared.”

”I know, honey. Tell him we’re going to let him go.”

“Mom, he doesn’t speak English. He won’t understand.”

“Tell him anyway. We’re almost there.”

We released him onto a small tree at Mt. Simon Park in Eau Claire, WI which is along the Chippewa River. We ate, the kids swam, he relocated, and we headed for home.

Ever hear of a Dobsonfly? I sure didn’t before this! But there he was on an interesting website that helped identify him. Ours was a sweet little boy. Females have smaller, functional mandibles (jaws) that are capable of inflicting pain. On another site, I learned that they are otherwise harmless in spite of their appearance, and are nocturnal. Most of their lives are spent in the larval stage, growing up under rocks in rivers, steams, and lakes. A few years later, they leave their watery world and pupate (like butterflies do) on land, over-wintering. Come late spring and into the earlier summer months, they begin emerging. They spend only a few days of life as winged creatures, as their sole purpose now is to mate, lay eggs, and die.

The site that helped ID him was here, if anyone would like to check it out:


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