An endangered dragonfly gets a second chance at life due to efforts of biologists in Illinois. The insects were saved from the brink of extinction by being raised in laboratories for the past four to five years at the University of South Dakota, and will soon be released into the forests.
Known as Hine’s emerald dragonflies, they were discovered in the mid 1900’s in Ohio, and today, only around 320 exist in Illinois. The species was believed to be extinct for the past couple of decades, which has been accurate for several states, but some have recently been found in forests outside Chicago and researchers wish for those still alive to thrive.
Their efforts revolve around trying to maximize their survival rate in captivity far more than the small chances they stand in the wild. Around 10 in 1,000 dragonfly eggs survive long enough to reach adulthood, and scientists have imposed themselves the goal to lift that number to between 100 to 200 in 1,000.
The aim is perhaps ambitious, but research so far has come up with excellent results that promises to return the Hine’s emerald dragonfly back into nature.
Female dragonflies lay their eggs on bodies of shallow water that typically hatch in the spring. The nymphs breaking out from the eggs take up to four years to fully mature, shed their skin for the last time and become adult dragonflies.
Their typical lifespan is of four to five weeks during which they lay more eggs. Both the waiting time and amphibians found in similar environments make it difficult for the species to survive.
For many years, similar environmental groups such as Nature Conservancy has been working strenuously on preserving and creating appropriate habitats for dragonflies to survive in, even if the insect’s role in nature and ecosystems is not vital.
It’s a matter of philosophic meaning that a creature who does not serve any practical purpose should be so protected. The world will not implode without it, but that can account for many things that offer pleasure and entertainment around the world.
Art, music and movies serve no practical purposes either, but we do not let them perish regardless. We preserve pieces of our history, sculptures, monuments and statues because it reminds of something far beyond our own life, an insight into a world we were never part of.
Inspiration is something we can live without, but never should. That’s why it’s imperative to save everything we can while there’s still hope.
Image source: archive.onearth.org