With their needle-like, iridescent bodies, four gossamer wings, enormous eyes, and distinctive flight patterns, dragonflies are a familiar sight around ponds and streams at this time of year.

Because these swift, beautiful insects lay their eggs under water and feed near it, the Florence Shelly Preserve, a diverse 400-acre protected wetlands area just outside Thompson, is an ideal place to observe them.

On Saturday, June 28 at 10 a.m., Professor Nick Donnelly, retired Professor of Geology at SUNY Binghamton and one of the world's leading experts on dragonflies, will host a walk at the preserve to identify dragonflies and discuss their habits.

There are approximately sixty to seventy different species of the insect in the preserve, and participants will learn to distinguish among them, and to recognize dragonfly larva.

Professor Donnelly, who is credited with the discovery of fifty dragonfly species worldwide, will also discuss what he calls “the outstanding flying abilities” of these insects.

“Dragonflies handle their wings unlike any other insect,” he says. “Each of their four wings moves independently of the others, and they can rotate them like a helicopter.”

According to Professor Donnelly, this is the prime time of year for seeing dragonflies.

The author of numerous papers on dragonflies and the editor of the publication of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, Professor Donnelly has studied the insects in South America, southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

The Florence Shelly Preserve is located one mile north of Thompson on Route 171. There is a small parking lot opposite Stack Road.

The walk is scheduled to last two hours. Participants are urged to wear waterproof shoes, since we’ll be walking in a wetland.

Note that the trail is uneven, with spots that are rocky and wet. No reservations are required and the walk is free of charge.

For more information call Trebbe Johnson at 570 396-0293.