The birding industry has established universal appeal, but birds and butterflies are not the only winged migrants to attract a crowd. Dragonflies and damselflies are gaining popularity among wildlife enthusiasts, and southern Texas is home to 93 species, making it one of the most biologically diverse regions in the United States.
The ninth annual Dragonfly Days weekend is a chance to see why dragonflying is becoming as popular as birding in some places. The event takes place in Weslaco May 15-18 and is sponsored by the Estero Llano Grande State Park World Birding Center site near Weslaco and the Valley Nature Center.
For those who want to learn how to tell a skimmer from a glider, and understand how these colorful insects play a vital role in maintaining a healthy environment, Dragonfly Days will offer seminars, field trips, social events and a banquet with a silent auction.
“This is an opportunity for people to discover a new passion and rediscover the Lower Rio Grande Valley, where one third of the total Texas population of dragonflies can be found,” said Jennifer Owen-White, Estero Llano Grande State Park natural resource specialist. White said most of the seminars will be held at the event’s host hotel, the Holiday Inn Express.
One keynote speaker, Tim Manolis, plans to discuss ways amateur dragonfly enthusiasts can begin to explore secrets waiting to be revealed about dragonflies worldwide. Other experts will be guiding field trips to area wetlands with the greatest dragonfly diversity.
Organizers say visitors should make sure to bring binoculars, sturdy shoes and protection from the sun.
For local families and children, the Valley Nature Center is also hosting the Dragonfly Family Nature Day Sat., May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more details about Dragonfly Days and the Dragonfly Family Nature Day, call (956) 969-2475 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Pre-registration is required for all seminars, field trips and the banquet. Register by April 30 to avoid a price increase. More information can also be found on the Valley Nature Center’s Web page.