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Maggie Steinhauer

Maggie Steinhauer

Maggie grew up in Shorewood, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She graduated with a degree in Conservation and Environmental Science and has spent her most recent years gaining experience in different fields involving animals and environmental education. Maggie first interned in the Research and Community Science department, followed by working as a Visitor Services Assistant, and she is now the Research and Community Science Coordinator. Passion for wildlife and science communication are some of Maggie’s driving factors and she is overjoyed to be able to work in the Urban Ecology Center’s thriving green spaces.

Thursday, 01 October 2020 10:31

Swarms of Dragonflies

Just a couple of weeks ago, as the sun was setting on one of our last warm September evenings, the air was filled with large, erratically flying creatures. I was driving along a side street in Shorewood and yard after yard was enchanted by the incredible swarms of dragonflies clouding the already-dim sky. Being the dragonfly nut that I am, a wave of great appreciation for the gift of this moment washed over me, and I wondered if the neighbors chatting a few houses down or the kids playing next to the street noticed it too.

It all started in the summer of 2018, which was my first true exposure to the world of dragonflies and damselflies. This was followed by my first field season leading odonate surveys with the Urban Ecology Center during the summer of 2019.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint what it is that is so utterly addictive about seeking out these flying assassins.

Met with the blaring calls of the Red-winged Blackbirds and joyful chatter of Robins when stepping outside, you know it’s springtime in Wisconsin. These sounds create a feeling of warmth and excitement for the summer months that are just around the corner, and are a sure sign of the changing seasons. There are, though, harbingers of spring that aren’t so vociferous. In fact, two species in particular are rather silent in their seasonal debut, but just as telling. The Mourning Cloak butterfly and the Butler’s Gartersnake are two species that rise from their winter hibernation rather than migrating back into Wisconsin.

Perhaps you remember dancing through the cool grass on a summer night, eyes carefully fixed on small, fleeting glimpses of light as they traveled silently through the air. You’d reach out and quickly grab into the darkness, and, if you were lucky, the spaces between your fingers would illuminate a bright green – leaving your face glowing with wonder. Many people have a joy of catching fireflies and watching them dazzle the night air. It can truly be a breathtaking experience.

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