Dragonfly Swarms

Project Name: Dragonfly Swarms

Group members: Ashley Guzman, Itzel Chamu, Myriam Driss

Project topic: What role does environment play in the presence of dragonfly swarms? Is there a specific correlation between their swarm locations?

Goal: Identify dragonfly behavioral patterns and find a correlation between them and the different variables in the environment.

Task: Other people can contribute to our project by observing swarm activity in the Chicago area throughout the day and adding these observations to epicollect.

Location: Areas surrounded by bodies of water are good to survey around as well as prairie-like areas.

We focused on the area around the lily pond, north pond, as well as the pickerelweed pond at the nature museum.


Required materials:

To contribute to this project, it is useful to have a tablet or phone that has the epicollect app as well as a GPS, and a thermometer to measure the air, water, and soil temperature.


Project Summary:

Around the Lincoln Park area, many bodies of water are present, thus becoming homes and mating grounds for dragonflies. This project seeks to explore the different conditions in which dragonflies thrive in, specifically environmental variables. Everyday, location, elevation, weather, cloud cover, wind speed, air, water, and soil temperatures were collected. We were trying to find specific weather conditions that correlate to the presence of swarms and different behaviors within the dragonfly population.

We utilized meterology reports from weather.com as well, for things like windspeed and cloud cover.

The main objective is trying to find patterns between environmental conditions and dragonfly behavior.

Other people can contribute to the project by listing the location of the swarm and identifying the behaviors exhibited by the dragonflies.

We have been surveying these areas from around 9am – 1pm, and it would be useful to gather dragonfly swarming data at different points during the day so we can be more precise with our conclusions.


-1 tablet/ epicollect app (if needed to collect data)

– 1 measuring tape (10m)

– thermometer

-data collection tables

-magnifying glass (3)

-compass (3)

-dragonfly dichotomous key


-GPS for longitude and latitude (GPS essentials app)




1) Choose three large distinct locations where dragonflies have been spotted. Preferably around water and aquatic plants. The dragonfly season happens during the summer months.

2) Go to those locations at least once a day at the same time for 5 days.

3) At the first location, take a soil sample and water sample.

4) Measure and record air, water, and soil temperature using a thermometer

4a) Note cloud coverage, weather, and wind speed for the day

4b) Using a GPS system note the longitude and latitude

4c) Record observations of surroundings and location as well as organisms present

5) Count the number of dragonflies spotted in that particular area. Identify if there are only a few individuals or a swarm (more than 10)

6) Note if any particular behaviors are spotted (swarming, flying over a particular location, randomly flying, matting or perching)

6a) Record their flight direction and type (circular, random, clock/counterclockwise)

7) Record their minimum and maximum flight height

8) If the locations are large (such as a large pond or lake) many different points can be taken along them

8a) If no dragonflies spotted record the location

9) at each new location repeat steps 3-7

10) for analyzing soil and water samples (take from other group)

Preliminary Findings:

Water Quality Map

Dragonfly Swarm Map

We have taken a good amount of data, however this project requires a wider range of observations, at different times and locations in the city, because dragonfly swarms are erratic. Even though the dragonfly swarms seem erratic, we wanted to find the unifying characteristic in these different environments. In doing so, we also observed which environments had numbers of dragonflies that did not qualify as swarms (<10 dragonflies).

After we collected our data and organized it into charts and maps, we only found some correlations in the data. We had a great deal of outliers, and we couldn’t analyze the specific directions that the dragonflies swarmed in (because their flying is so erratic). However, we did notice that on all of the days that we observed a low wind speed in the area, there was a surplus of dragonflies. Air temperature was also a variable we saw some correlation in. The general trend in the graph was that as the air temperature increased, the number of dragonflies spotted increased then decreased. According to our data, the dragonflies appeared at moderate temperatures, between 22 and 28 degrees celsius.

Soil temperature data was too scattered to come up with a theory. Cloud cover showed the greatest count of dragonflies when the cloud cover percentage was low to moderate, because like turtles, dragonflies seem to like perching in the sun.

We identified many different species during our observations. We saw black saddlebags, blue skimmers, common green darners, wandering glider, swamp darner, twelve-spotted skimmer, painted skimmer, and band-winged dragonlets.


New questions, future research, and possible changes to procedure?

Different behaviors of different species?

How sensitive are each species from changes in their environments?

How well do dragonflies interact with others of their own kind and with other animals/bugs?

What areas do they choose to lay their eggs?

What can their exoskeletons tell us about the area they are found in (when they go through metamorphosis)?

If there is a lack of mosquitoes, can that be an indicator of dragonfly swarm presence?


EpiCollect Project: http://epicollectserver.appspot.com/project.html?name=ASM_dragonflies


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s