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Why are large swarms of dragonflies being spotted around Milwaukee?

These types of dragonflies usually grow to about 3 to 4 inches in length. But there's no need to panic when you see them
Posted at 6:21 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-02 19:21:52-04

MILWAUKEE — If you've been out and about recently enjoying these last few days of summer, you may have noticed an uptick in dragonflies flying around.

"A lot of what people are seeing lately is these big swarms of really big dragonflies. Just this entire week they've been covering everyone's lawn, my parent's front yard, like everywhere," said Maggie Steinhauer, the research and community science coordinator for the Urban Ecology Center.

Steinhauer says the swarm of dragonflies you see are likely green darners. And it's completely normal to see them this time of year.

"They are starting to migrate south for the winter," said Steinhauer. "When they are in these large masses they are feeding. So this is feeding behavior. They are eating mosquitoes, midges, and other pest insects."

Steinhauer says these types of dragonflies usually grow to about 3 to 4 inches in length. But there's no need to panic when you see them! They're completely harmless to humans.

"They don't bite us, and they physically cannot sting. They lay eggs in or near water so that's why usually you'll see dragonflies near a river, lake, or pond, but they will also travel away from the water for feeding," said Steinhauer.

So what should you do if you see a swarm of dragonflies coming toward you?

"Definitely don't try to kill them. Enjoy them.​ ​Also, I would recommend binoculars and potentially a net if you're interested in catching them and identifying the species."

Steinhauer adds that the dragonflies will likely dwindle down around October as they head south for the winter. But don't worry... they'll be back.

"They are completing their life cycle down south and then those young will come back up north come next spring."

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