Come on in, the water's fine! How solar panels may affect damselfly behavior.

Come on in, the water's fine! How solar panels may affect damselfly behavior.



Stephanie Kaitlyn Murray, Chelse M. Prather, Chloe M. Reilly, Skylar M. Shannon


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



Solar energy is a booming industry in the United States, especially in Ohio. Several areas within the state are urgently converting land into solar fields to normalize the more sustainable energy source. While the transition away from fossil fuels is essential for repairing Earth’s environment, it is important to ask the hard questions regarding potential environmental risks associated with solar panels. This study focuses on the effect solar panels may have on Odonata, specifically, damselflies. Odonates are ecologically significant in terms of their indication of water quality and their role as prey for many species of birds and fish. They also benefit humans as they rid our space of vectors such as mosquitos, which are known to carry fatal diseases. Previous observations have suggested that damselflies may be attracted to solar panels due to their resemblance to water, which could serve as a threat to damselfly larvae. We observed damselfly behavior over three types of solar panels that differed in color, thickness of gaps between solar cells, and panel flexibility. Six solar panels were laid flat on a plot of land close to water where there were high population densities of damselflies. Each panel had a matching control plot, in which vegetation was sheared to match the size of the panel. These were used to confirm whether the damselflies behaved differently over panels laid in grass than over bare land with grassy overhang. The panels were observed during the month of August, which is when Odonate activity is at its highest. Observations of specific interactions between damselflies and solar panels or control plots were logged in a data sheet and later analyzed using R statistical software. Through statistical analysis, it was found that there was no significant difference between Odonate activity among the solar panels and the control plots.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Kathleen A. Kargl, Chelse M. Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Come on in, the water's fine! How solar panels may affect damselfly behavior.