A cool find near the Edmonds Marsh

Smaller version of a dragonfly the first to be recorded in Snohomish County
By Brian Soergel | Aug 29, 2019
Courtesy of: Alan Mearns Alan Mearns photographed this California Spreadwing (Archilestes californicus), which had never before been recorded in the county.

On Aug. 17, Edmonds resident Alan Mearns photographed an unusual damselfly – similar to the dragonfly, but smaller, softer and weaker – at the Edmonds Native Plant Demonstration Garden while exploring the vegetated buffer leading into the southeast corner of Edmonds Marsh.

The news: The insect had never before been recorded in Snohomish County.

Another Edmonds resident, David Richman, confirmed to Mearns that it was indeed a species of damselfly, the California Spreadwing (Archilestes californicus). Richman believes there may be more than 500 species of insects in the Edmonds Marsh.

Mearns had taken his find to Councilmember Diane Buckshnis, a leading voice in preserving the 22-acre marsh.

“He was beaming with pride and is so correct as to the importance and joy this area will bring to our community and future generations,” Buckshnis said.

“The scientific-based study of our marsh estuary will soon be presented by Windward LLC (which the City of Edmonds has contracted with for a study), and everyone will see the natural wonders that live with us in that native wildlife habitat. Congrats to Dr. Mearns, and thank you Dr. Richman for validating the new addition.”

The two retired biologists posted the discovery on two national databases: Odonata Central at the University of Alabama (bit.ly/327fmHu), and iNaturalist, a website for biological information.

“The larva is an aquatic insect in slow streams and pools, where It eats mosquito and fly larvae, among other things,” Mearns said.

“The adult captures mosquitoes, moths, and other flying insects. We don’t know if the larvae occur in Willow or Shellabarger creeks.”

Mearns said his discovery underscores the value of protecting and enhancing natural places in Edmonds, including at the marsh.

“It also underscores the importance of native vegetation, including in marsh buffer areas,” he said.

“These habitats hold many surprises and discoveries for watchful visitors, students, and teachers.

“And while perhaps a small discovery, it adds to the vast amount of observations being made by citizens that are increasing our understanding of the effects of global warming and climate change on our increasingly threatened wildlife.”



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