Optical Engineer and nature photographer Dr. June Tveekrem considers herself unusual because she has both an analytical and an artistic side. “About ten years ago,” says Tveekrem, “I began photographing animals and insects including just about anything that walks, crawls, flies, hops, or slithers in front of my camera.” She is particularly fond of photographing dragonflies. “They’re beautiful,” she explains. “Photographing dragonflies is a rewarding challenge. Only a few professional entomologists study them, so amateurs can make significant contributions to this field.” She focuses on dragonflies in Maryland and Minnesota, her parental home.|
Tveekrem and a friend already discovered a species new to Minnesota called the Quebec Emerald. After verification by experts, their find and accompanying photographs were announced in Argia, an international publication of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas. She also has an upcoming article in The Journal of the Maryland Entomological Society concerning the results of a five-year dragonfly count in Howard County, Maryland, which is an ongoing volunteer effort organized by Tveekrem.
| Image of a male Quebec Emerald dragonfly. Credit. J. Tveekrem|
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| Image of a male Carolina Saddlebags dragonfly on June' s hand. Credit: J. Tveekrem|
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|She is currently creating an online field guide to Maryland dragonflies. “I don’t have as much text as many field guides, but the pictures are enough for most people to identify them. My pictures have also been used in two printed field guides in the United States and one in the Netherlands. We have a species commonly found here that occasionally shows up in the Netherlands,” says Tveekrem. “The Green Darner dragonfly, which is 3.5 inches long, is capable of flying across the Atlantic under its own power, given a decent tailwind! Experts believe that this dragonfly can rest en route by perching on seaweed, wood, plastic bottles, or other debris floating on the water.” |
“A great variety of dragonflies can travel up the coast,” continues Tveekrem. “I have personally seen dragonflies in Maryland which are native to South Florida. They most likely hug the coast and travel under their own power. They’re not as delicate as they look.” When the dragonflies are over land, scientists can track these dragonflies by using tiny transmitters.
|“There is no reason to be afraid of them. They don’t bite and, despite their long, thin bodies, they don’t even have a stinger. In fact, they breathe through their tails as they don’t have lungs. They are wonderful to have around because they eat mosquitoes,” explains Tveekrem.
Tveekrem offers two final thoughts: “Please do not be afraid of dragonflies. Also, remember to be attentive to the hidden beauty of nature’s creatures.”
Nonetheless, traditional western European cultures sometimes perceive dragonflies as mean. “The Spanish call them ‘ponies of the devil.’ My favorite myth is that dragonflies are the devil’s darning needle and can sew your eyes shut. In Asia, however, dragonflies are often revered. Some Chinese believe that dragonflies deliver fond greetings from the dead,” she explains.
|Image of a female Blue Dasher dragonfly. Credit: J. Tveekrem|
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