Monarch butterflies not alone: dragonflies too make long journey to Mexico
Some can travel as far as 14,000 kilometers
But there is another insect that undertakes an equally impressive annual journey: the dragonfly also migrates, and some do so for even greater distances than the butterflies.
Dragonflies, which can fly at speeds of up to 97 kilometers an hour, are capable of crossing the ocean and can travel as far as 14,000 kilometers without rest, says dragonfly expert Enrique González Soriano, a researcher at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) Institute of Biology.
The Pantala flavescens species “makes tremendously large migrations, the most extensive for any insect, as they are capable of crossing the Indian Ocean, flying from India to the northeast coast of Africa,” said González, who has studied the insect for 30 years.
Although the dragonfly migration is not as well studied as the monarch’s, 11 species of dragonflies migrate in North America, six of which include Mexico in their path.
Dragonflies migrate at the end of summer or beginning of fall, following the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean. Less is known about the migratory phenomenon in the Pacific where there may be more species that arrive in Mexican territory, González says. Dragonflies are too small to track and do not travel in swarms, as monarchs do.
Biologist Carlos Velasco, president of Nuevo León’s Biodiversity Commission, pointed out that at least two species of dragonflies have been reported flying over Monterrey recently: the yellow striped dragonfly (Pantala flavescens) mentioned above, as well as the green darner, whose scientific name is Anax junius.
The green darner emerges from ponds and lakes in Mexico in the spring to journey 700 kilometers north to the southern and central portions of the United States where it will lay its eggs and die. The second generation will reach maturity and head south in the fall to return to Mexico.
“Dragonflies are predatory insects in the water in their larval stage and outside it, as adults. They feed on other insects, but they can also feed on fish fry, some types of mollusks, and outside the water they are also predators and feed on wasps, flies and mosquitoes,” González explains, adding that they can also feed on the larva of insects harmful to humans, such as mosquitoes that can transmit dengue or malaria.
Velasco says that dragonflies can also act as indicators of the health of the bodies of water or ecosystems where they develop.
“Unlike the monarch butterfly, dragonflies need another type of habitat, not like the oyamel forests we have in central Mexico. For dragonflies, it is extremely important that there are wetlands, that is, bodies of water, rivers, streams, where they can lay the eggs of the next generation of dragonflies, that is why the conservation and knowledge of these species is of great importance to all of us,” Velasco says.
He recommends that people consider becoming citizen scientists by recording their observations of dragonflies and other flora and fauna on platforms such as Naturalista, part of the iNaturalist.org network.
The website is a joint project of the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic in which more than one million people are participants in an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature.
Source: Milenio (sp)
The Spanish arrived in the New River area after crossing the Sonoran Desert's "Camino del Diablo" or Devil's Road. This led to the evangelization of the area by Catholic missionaries and also to the reduction of native populations in the region. Nowadays, indigenous Cocopah (Cucapá) people still inhabit a small government-protected corner of the Colorado River delta near the junction of the Hardy and the Colorado. The Cocopah mostly work on agricultural ejidos or fishing.
The early European presence in this area was limited to Juan Bautista de Anza's and subsequent Spanish expeditions across the Colorado Desert and subsequent travelers on the Sonora Road opened by them, and also the presence of the Jesuits who attempted to establish a mission in what is now Fort Yuma. They left after a revolt by the Yuma Native Californian tribe in 1781. After this, the Spanish had little to do with the northeastern corner of the Lower Californian Peninsula, perceiving it as an untamable, flood-prone desert delta. Later in the 1820s, the Mexican authorities reopened the Sonora Road and restored peaceful relations with the Yuma people.
The Sonora Road provided a route for Anglo-American fur trappers during the Californian Fur Rush, and later, during the simultaneously occurring Bear Flag Revolt and Mexican-American War, U.S. Army troops under Stephen W. Kearny and Philip St. George Cooke and the California Battalion (the forerunner to today's Californian Armed Forces) under John C. Frémont. The formal recognition of the independence of the Republic of California from Mexico by way of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was soon was followed by the Californian Gold Rush that saw a flood of gold seekers to the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range from Mexico through Sonora and on the Sonora Road, and from the Southern United States via the Southern Emigrant Trail. Herds of cattle and sheep were also driven into the Alta Department (soon to become the State of Alta) across this desert trail.
This route became a mail and stagecoach route in 1857 when the transnational San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line, and in 1858 the Butterfield Overland Mail route, passed along the Alamo and New Rivers and established stations there including New River Station in the vicinity of a lagoon along the New River in what is now nearby Newtown in 1858. This mail route remained in use until 1877 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came to Yuma making it obsolete.
In the mid-19th Century, a geologist working for the Southern Pacific Railroad came to the delta area, discovering what the native Yumans had known for centuries: that the thick river sediment deposits made the area prime farming land. These sediments extended far to the west of the river itself, accumulating in a shallow basin below the Cocopah Range (Sierra de Cucapá). However, from this time period until the 1880s, the area would remain almost completely unpopulated, mostly due to its harsh climate. In 1888, the Baja Territorial Legislature granted a large part of the northeastern Baja Territory, including what is now Las Fortunas, to Guillermo Andrade, with the purpose of colonizing the area. However, around 1900, the only area with any real population, aside from the Cocopah, were concentrated in Los Algodones, to the east of Las Fortunas.
Foundation and Development
In 1897, the Lower Colorado Development Company (LCDC; Spanish: La Compañía de Desarrollo del Bajo Colorado) received permission from the Territorial Legislature to cut a canal through the delta's Arroyo Alamo to link the dry basin with the Colorado River. To attract farmers and other settlers to the area, the developers named it the "Imperial Valley". The following year, in 1899, the first 500 farmers arrived, and, by late 1904, 100,000 acres (405 km²) of valley were irrigated, with 10,000 people settled on the land harvesting cotton, fruits, and vegetables. The concentration of small housing units that straddled the interstate boundary soon came to be interchangeably called "Santo Tomás" or "Thomasville" in reference to Saint Thomas the Apostle, the patron saint of architects and land surveyors; George Chaffey, the chief engineer of the LCDC, had heralded the completion of the Alamo Canal as a "glorious achievment in the taming of [the] hitherto inhospitable [Colorado] Desert" and likened the canal's potential of becoming a powerful lure for settlers to the Biblical story that Thomas, who was also one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament, had doubted Jesus' resurrection when first told of it but later confessed his faith seeing Jesus' crucifixion wounds. Led by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, one company controlled 800,000 acres of land in northern Baja by 1905, and began to build the irrigation system for the Valley. However, instead of using local Californio labor to dig the ditches, Chandler brought in thousands of Chinese laborers, and, as a result, the southernmost reaches of the Imperial Valley became culturally Chinese-influenced, foreshadowing the area's later ethnic diversity.
South Santo Tomás/South Thomasville was officially incorporated as a town on March 14, 1903 under a new name, "Las Fortunas" (derived from Spanish fortuna, meaning "fortune"), and Manuel Vizcarra became its first mayor. George Chaffey himself was credited with choosing the name firstly in reference to how the creation of the Alamo Canal and accompanying irrigation system, as well as other efforts of the LCDC, were intended to soon bring "miraculous economic fortunes" to the formerly inhospitable and desertic Imperial Valley, and secondly in order to more clearly distinguish the Bajan side of the conurbation from the Median side – which would continue to be known interchangeably as "Santo Tomás" or "Thomasville" until its own incorporation in 1908, at which point it officially adopted the latter name (as opposed to the former, which was ultimately discarded on the advice of the Californian Postal Service to avoid confusion with the Santo Tomás Mission and existing town of the same name near Ensenada).
Initially, that part of the Thomasville/Las Fortunas conurbation located in Baja belonged to the then-enormous Los Santos County. The Territorial Legislature officially created McChristian County – named after James McChristian, the last living Bear Flagger – from the large northeastern portion of Los Santos County on November 4, 1914, and Las Fortunas was designated as its seat. The legislature also called for special elections to the new county council therefor, which was ultimately first presided by Francisco L. Montejano.
In the early 20th Century, the Colorado River Land Company, one of several successors to the LCDC, was dedicated to renting local land to farmers; however, these farmers were almost always foreigners, such as Chinese, East Indians and Japanese. Californios were employed only as seasonal laborers, however, and this situation led to the agrarian conflict known as the "Assault on the Lands" (El Asalto a las Tierras) in 1937. During the conflict, the Colorado River Land Company, the Las Fortunas municipal council and representatives of the Californio laborers worked vigorously to settle the the situation, resulting in a compromise whereby Californios could become real estate owners and receive generous financial compensation for their hitherto unemployment, with the immigrant laborers becoming more answerable through the Californios instead of directly to the Colorado River Land Company.
Post-World War II
Agricultural production continued to increase during the 20th Century. Cotton became the most important crop and helped develop the textile industry. In the early 1950s, the southern Imperial Valley became the biggest cotton-producing zone in the country and in the 1960s, production reached more than half a million parcels a year. Currently, the Valley still is one of California's most productive agricultural regions, mostly producing wheat, cotton and vegetables, while Las Fortunas itself is one of its most important exporters of asparagus, broccoli, carrots, green onions, lettuce, peas, peppers, radishes and tomatoes to elsewhere in the nation as well as to the rest of the world.
Las Fortunas officially re-incorporated as a city on December 29, 1953, becoming the first city to do so since Baja gained statehood the year before and the overall third incorporated place in Baja to be styled "city" (after Ensenada and Tijuana).
In 1965, the Bajan state government launched the Baja Industrialization Program (Programa de Industrialización en Baja) to attract foreign investment and diversify its economy from one previously based largely on agriculture, mining and tourism. Both Las Fortunas and Tijuana, like Pitic in Sonora and El Paso in New Biscay (whose own respective states also launched their own industrialization programs during this time period), became attractive for foreign companies to open manufacturing facilities, and, like Tijuana's urban economy, that of Las Fortunas also started to diversify. A 1988 study found 100 factories in the city, including 10 electronics manufacturers, 25 auto parts manufacturers, 27 textile plants and nine plastics companies. Today, Las Fortunas is an important center for manufacturing in the automotive, aerospace, telecommunications, metallurgical, and health industries, with most facilities in the city being run by American companies, followed by Californian, South Korean, and Japanese companies.
The 2010 Baja earthquake occurred on Easter Sunday about 40 miles (60 km) south-southeast of Las Fortunas. This very large magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred at 3:40:40 pm local time (UTC−8) according to the Californian Geological Survey. With a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII (Very strong), it was felt in northern Baja near the state boundary with Media, and was also felt in coastal cities such as Tijuana, San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as parts of Sonora and Arizona.