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A species of dragonfly listed as threatened in Ohio made a spectacular return to Liberty Park last month after a seven-year absence.
The harlequin darner was first identified in the 3,000-acre park--whose largest areas are in Twinsburg and Twinsburg Township--in 2007, but one hadn't been recorded since 2010. Enter Jerry Cannon, a citizen scientist and volunteer photographer who happened to be in the right place at the right time May 9.
"I was doing a snake survey, but I didn't find any snakes," said Cannon, a Stow resident. "While returning to the car I noticed something flying along the path. Luckily, the dragonfly was very cooperative and I shot a couple of good pictures."
Local dragonfly expert Larry Rosche said he believes Cannon's is the earliest-ever report of the species in our region. Harlequin darners typically fly mid-May through June.
Biologist Marlo Perdicas said the species is somewhat unique to Liberty Park: "It hasn't been recorded in other areas managed by Summit Metro Parks, but there are reports of them in three other Northeast Ohio counties," she explained, citing Ashtabula, Geauga and Portage.
Perdicas said the harlequin darner has a green face, greenish-blue eyes, and a 2- to 2.5-inch long body with blue-green markings. More than 90 percent of Ohio's wetlands and bogs--the species' habitat--have been filled since the earliest land surveys of the state were taken.
For information about dragonflies and other wildlife, call 330-865-8065.