Clouds and Dragonflies

Both clouds and dragonflies are common this time of year here in Tucson, as the moist, tropical air of the monsoons and the daytime desert heat are combined to brew up frequent thunderstorms. These storms and their heavy rains cause local streams and washes flow, and ponds to fill. Before the rains start in the afternoons, variously colored dragonflies can seen darting about after small insects over expanses of still water in ponds, marshes, and even swimming pools. Dragonflies will rest between hunting flights on reeds or slender twigs near the water.


As soon as the rains begin, dragonflies quickly disappear. They hide in sheltered spots, away from the driving rains and hail that could break their fragile, transparent wings. If some daylight remains after the rains subside, dragonflies will then reemerge to hunt the many flying ants and termites swarming after the rains. Triggered by the rains, large numbers (swarms) of winged male and female ants and termites emerge to fly away, mate, and form new colonies. Many of the flying ants and termites swarming near ponds and marshes will escape the dragonflies darting above, only to fall into the water below where they are eagerly snapped up by fish lurking in the rain-swollen water.