Blue Darner dragonflies are busy in Montana

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The Skalkaho Pass on the east side of the Bitterroot Valley is where you can easily find the late summer dragonfly – the Darner. There are six species of this family, including the Zigzag (photo above). Mud Lake is about a mile east of Skalkaho Pass and there is a boardwalk on the swampy part of the lake so stay on the trail. Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal says you can find Darners Lake, Paddle-tailed, Sedge, Subarctic, Variable, and Zig-Zag here. There might even be a dragonfly mating in progress.

Meanwhile, on the floor of the Bitterroot Valley, look for flocks of birds and prepare for migration. Bob noticed that the Familiar Buntings and the Eastern Kingbirds were starting to come together. Most of the time, you will find birds near the Bitterroot River, where insects and other food sources might be. The “Bitterroot River Important Bird Area” has been designated by the Audubon Society from Lolo Creek south to Woodside Crossing, just north of Hamilton. He said 240 species of birds have been sighted there, including more than 115 species that use the area to breed. There are approximately 2,000 of these important bird areas in the United States.

Butterflies can be found around water sources like weed irrigation ditches that little aviators love. The Purplish Copper butterfly loves the nectar of the flowering tansy of Comman. This butterfly is quite small with the upper colors of the orange-purple wings (pictured below).

The wildflowers highlighted this week belonged to the Asters family – the Hairy Goldenaster, Canada Goldenrod and Sneezing (photos below). The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal airs Wednesdays around 7:45 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. on KLYQ and klyq.com.

Purplish-copper butterfly. (Photo by Bob Danley)
Hairy Goldenaster wild flower. (Photo by Bob Danley)
Canada Goldenaster. (Photo by Bob Danley)
Common Sneezeweed wild flower. (Photo by Bob Danley)

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