At first they were elusive. Every swat of the kids’ nets came up with a few leaves, but clean of dragonflies.
Nature enthusiast John Arthur — one of 20 along for the dragonfly hike at Minneopa State Park Saturday afternoon — tipped the kids off: “Swing the net very, very fast. Don’t hesitate.”
But 4- and 6-year-old hands have yet to learn the art of stealth. So about halfway along the trail, the group had looked only from afar.
“We got a meadow hawk,” Arther would call out. “We got a spread-winged here, a damsel fly.”
Fun to look at. They even appeared to pose on branches for the kids to get a better look. But for little girls and boys holding nets, the fun was in the catch.
“We just have to keep our eyes peeled and see if we can find any other ones,” said Scott Kudelka, Minneopa area naturalist who informed the group that Minnesota has 140 types of dragonflies.
Then suddenly, 6-year-old Camille Focht’s eyes locked on a low-flying beauty to her left.
“Daddy, I found a dragonfly!” she said, learning that it was actually a damselfly.
She handed her dad, John Focht, the net to ensure capture, and seconds later, the group was gathered around to see the creature up close.
“Wow, I caught one!” Camille said.
And that was just the first. Around the bend, a dried-up wetland area with tall grasses seemed like a sure bet to Kudelka to find a few more.
He trudged a path through the grass, which most of the kids and parents followed. The commotions stirred the dragonflies, mosquitoes and tons of other insects. “There’s one!” “There’s another one!”
Brady German, 8, led the charge out of the wetland back onto the trail with a dragonfly in his net.