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Quest for Dragons and Damsels

July 17, 2008

By David Sanders, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Jul. 17–The creature was perched on the end of a thick blade of grass, swinging back and forth as it caught the morning breeze.

Small heads peeked up from the pond’s edge, parents waiting nearby, as a small group of children and their families spent Saturday morning with the Sonoran Desert Kids Club at Roy P. Drachman-Agua Caliente Regional Park in search of dragonflies and damselflies.

“Do you see it, right there?” asked Steve Russell, an environmental educator with the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation department. “That’s a black setwing dragonfly.”

The morning class included a slide show about the differences among the 83 varieties of dragonflies and damselflies in Pima County, along with their different stages of life from underwater larvae to adulthood.

“The damsels are going to have long, segmented abdomens and they hold their wings back when they are perched or at rest, while dragonflies have heavier bodies and have their wings out,” Russell told the group.

For 10-year-old Drew Carlson, being outside with his small fish net, scraping the bottom of the lake, was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning.

“I like science, and this is neat,” he said. “We’re getting to look at live larvae instead of dead bugs like in my backyard.”

Russell hopes that by learning about their world, children will grow to have a concern for it.

“If people appreciate nature and what’s around them, then that makes people take care of their habitat,” he said. “Be literate when it comes to nature and you will appreciate nature.”

The Sonoran Desert Kids Club is a free gathering for children ages 5 to 12 and their families. It meets twice a month at various locations.

For more information about ongoing classes go online to www.pima.gov/nrpr.

We’re getting to look at live larvae instead of dead bugs like in my backyard.

Drew Carlson

a participant in the Sonoran Desert Kids Club

–Contact photographer David Sanders at 573-4155 or dsanders@azstarnet.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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