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Presidio pours buckets of endangered bugs into Mountain Lake

Hyper rare, incredibly fragile damselflies are perfect metaphor for modern San Francisco

While the rest of us were making weekend plans or prepping for the rain on Friday, ecologists in the Presidio were busy dumping literal bucketfuls of bugs into the shallow end of the small lake that borders the inner Richmond.

This was not just some weird hobby. As San Francisco Chronicle science writer David Perlman reports, it’s a bid to save our rare, beautiful, and incredibly easy to kill damselfly population.

Damselflies are a lot like dragonflies, but you can distinguish them by the way a damselfly’s wings cleave to its body when it rests. They’re just as graceful as their name implies—and also a little bit scary, being voracious predators that can "catch and eat any swimming animal" smaller than their own mouths. (Yikes.)

Like a lot of San Francisco natives, the forktail damselflies are having a hard time of it lately. Their traditional haunts at Fort Point just aren’t that hospitable anymore, so park authorities relocated them.

There’s a distinct Old Testament vibe about this, as ecologists rounded up some of the last forktail eggs in the name and transported them by the thousands to a nearby promised land so that they’re not wiped out by the merciless ocean waves. Heady stuff before the weekend. Heady stuff for a Friday morning.

As you can probably guess from the name, the San Francisco forktail is a true SF original. Although first discovered in Monterey in 1946, nobody has ever managed to find another one there since. They don’t seem to want to range any further from the city than Sonoma County. Again, many of us can relate.

By way of an extra problem, they’re not very good fliers, so even relatively close communities can’t really support or interbreed with each other much. Mostly they just stick to wherever they call home. Yep, they’re true neighborhood bugs (we are loving these things more and more).

The transfer to Mountain Lake is a bit of a twofer for the park, as the Presidio Trust has been trying to clean up the unfortunately blighted body of water for years now, writes Perlman. Hopefully, the lake and the bugs can help each other out, and save two San Francisco originals in one go.