PAIUTE DANCER

No one knows exactly how long Paiute Dancers have been in Ohio. But after examining old photos, we now know that they have been at Buck Creek since at least 2004. It is easy to see how they could have been overlooked, as this is a fairly inconspicuous species. They might be mistaken for immature Blue-ringed Dancers, but Paiute Dancers lack the distinct blue rings of that species. (Paiutes are more brown than blue in the middle segments.) Paiute Dancers also have blue on the top of Segment 2 and different appendages. 

If you look at a range map created prior to 2018, it won't show Paiute Dancers anywhere near Ohio. So what gives? Well, in 2018, it was discovered that Ohio does, in fact, have breeding populations of Paiute Dancers. Credit goes to Jim Lemon for making this great discovery. Three locations were found in 2018: Cedar Bog near Urbana, Oakes Quarry in Fairborn, and a third site in Clark County that is not open to the public. In 2019, several more locations were added, including Buck Creek State Park and Siebenthaler Fen. All known Ohio locations are in Montgomery, Greene, Clark, and Champaign Counties. 

The flight period in Ohio appears to be May through October. The Paiute Dancers are found in very shallow water (a couple inches or less) with short sedges, such as spike-rush. If you are looking for this species, your best bet is probably Buck Creek or Cedar Bog. It takes a lot of patient searching to find them at Oakes Quarry and they are apparently scarce at Siebenthaler Fen. 

I will never forget the day of June 21, 2018. It was a rainy day, so I was sitting at home organizing my photos. The Paiute Dancers had recently been discovered at Cedar Bog and the Clark County site only a few weeks previously. As I sat at home sorting photos, I came across one I had taken at Oakes Quarry on May 20, 2018. My jaw dropped. It wasn't a great photo, but it looked like a Paiute Dancer. I high-tailed it to Oakes Quarry the very next day, June 22nd, and after a lot of searching, I finally found another Paiute. Jim Lemon visited the quarry with me a few days later and collected a specimen. Ohio's third Paiute Dancer location had been found!

How did the Paiute Dancers end up in Ohio? That one is a real head-scratcher. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) Most of the Ohio populations are near high-quality fens. It is possible that Ohio's Paiute Dancers are a relict population from the prairie-fen complex that once covered parts of Champaign, Clark, and Greene County. Or is this a recent range expansion?  Were the Paiutes accidentally introduced at one of the locations, and are they now spreading throughout the region? So many questions, so few answers.