By Adrienne Frank and Anne Atkins
Because of the Dragon’s unique and pristine ecosystem, researchers sometimes ask for help with accessing the Dragon to support a research project. Teta Kain has escorted many of these researchers. One of her favorite researchers was Dr. Ollie Flint who came with his wife several times over the years to study the caddisflies in the Dragon.
Because of the Dragon’s unique and pristine ecosystem, researchers sometimes ask for help with accessing the Dragon as part of a research project. Teta Kain has escorted many of these researchers and wrote in an earlier article:
One of the greatest pleasures I’ve had in my affiliation with Friends of Dragon Run is accompanying various scientists on treks over our properties and down the river to study and inventory the flora and fauna of the area. What wonderful treasures they find and how patient they are to explain life histories and strange habits of the critters and plants that inhabit the watershed. I’ve followed botanists, ornithologists, herpetologists, wetlands ecologists, and a host of other experts.
Dr. Oliver Flint, a leading expert on caddisflies (Trichoptera), and his wife came to the Dragon multiple of times over the years to study caddisflies as well as other insects and Teta was their escort. She admits that it was hard for her to find beauty in a caddisfly. She described them as looking like:
. . . nondescript critters, and one looks like another to me. Even Ollie cannot tell for sure if he has captured a new species, even though he can usually tell, after studying the insect with a hand lens, whether it is a male or female. The differences are so minute, that the specimen must be studied under a dissecting microscope to determine its identity. I confess that I quickly lose interest in the chase when I can’t figure out which is what, and I find my eyes straying to other more recognizable delights such as the flashy blue-green iridescence of the ebony Jewel wing damselfly or the giant compound eyes of slaty-blue skimmer dragonfly.
Even though Teta found caddisflies of little interest, they are another species in the Dragon’s intricate web of life. Caddisflies are insects found in freshwater habitats. They are distant relatives of dragonflies, stoneflies, and mayflies.
Caddisflies are also called sedge-flies or rail-flies, the adults are small moth-like insects with two pairs of hairy membranous wings.
Caddisfly larvae are high quality food for fish and frogs. Adult caddisflies have wings and fly at night. They provide food for a wide array of mammals, reptiles, spiders, and many others. Fishermen use them to catch freshwater fish.
Bald eagles may be majestic and easily seen, but there are myriad unseen creatures essential to life in Dragon Run.