A team of biologists has been raising an endangered species of insect known as Hine’s emerald dragonfly for several years in the laboratory in order to help it from going extinct. The researchers recently released the dragonflies in a Illinois preserve forest where they believe the insects will get along with the existing population of dragonflies.
Until a few years ago, the scientists believed that Hine’s emerald dragonfly was completely extinct. But over the past five years, a team of biologists has been trying to save the species by collecting some eggs from a southwestern Wisconsin dragonfly and raising them in captivity. The researchers said they released three out of the twenty dragonflies they have raised in the laboratory. According to them, the dragonflies were freed in a forest preserve not very far from Chicago. Latest reports suggest that there are less than 320 Hine’s emerald dragonflies in all Illinois.
Daniel Soluk, researcher at the University of South Dakota, and one of the leaders of the project, explained that he wanted to help Hine’s emerald dragonfly survive as a species by raising it in captivity for several years before releasing it back into its natural habitat.
Soluk said that 10 out of 1,000 dragonfly eggs become adult insects in the wild, which is why they had to do something to help them increase their population number. By raising them into the laboratory the dragonflies have more chances to survive, which means that out of 1,000 eggs, more than 100 reach adulthood.
Experts say the Hine’s emerald dragonfly was first discovered in the 1900s, in Ohio. But years after, the researchers believed the species had gone extinct until one specimen was discovered in the Des Plaines River Valley, in 1988. In 1995 the dragonfly was listed as an endangered species and in the present it can only be found in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Female dragonflies lay their eggs into the water and the nymphs hatch in the spring. The dragonfly nymph lives in the water for four years and then sheds its skin and emerges as an adult dragonfly that is able to fly. However, the adults’ life span is a short one; it doesn’t live more than five weeks, from June to late August.
The researchers collected the eggs from a dragonfly found in Wisconsin because those dragonflies are genetically similar to the ones that live in Illinois.
Image Source: ourbreathingplanet