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Posts Tagged ‘mating damselflies’

These Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) were engaging in a little May Day mayhem this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. If I have this figured out right, the female, the one on the right in this image, is depositing her eggs in the vegetation after successfully mating with the male, who is still holding on to her.

Southern Spreadwing

 © Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When the mating is done, damselflies have to decide where to deposit the eggs. Who decides? In many damselfly species, the male remains attached to the female as she deposits the eggs in vegetation or in the water, so I would assume that it is a joint decision of sorts.

When I observed this pair of dragonflies flying around together this past weekend at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge, I decided to try to track them and see where they chose to land. Would they choose a solitary spot where they could be alone or would they choose to join their friends in a post-mating frenzy at a popular hangout? They chose the former, perhaps because the hangout had reached its maximum capacity.

These may be Slender Bluet damselflies (Enallagma traviatum), although I must confess that I don’t have great confidence in my identification of bluets, which all look pretty much the same to my untrained eye.

damselflies

damselflies

damselflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We usually think of springtime as the season of love, but apparently autumn is also a good season if you are a damselfly. I don’t know what was so special about this one plant sticking out of the water, but mating damselfly couples seemed to be competing for a spot to land and deposit their eggs on it this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

I’m no expert when it comes to identifying damselflies, in part because so many different species have similar patterns of black and blue, but I think these couples, all in the tandem position, may be Big Bluets (Enallagma durum). I’d welcome any corrections or confirmation of my initial identification.

UPDATE:  My local odonate expert, Walter Sanford, weighed in with a correction to my identification—these damselflies are Familiar Bluets (Enallagma civile), not Great Bluets. When it comes to my initial identification, you might say that I blew it.

For those who might be curious about the technical aspects of the photo, I took this with my Canon 50D at 600mm on my Tamron 150-600mm lens, which is the equivalent of 960mm when you take into account the crop sensor of my camera. I continue to be pleased with the amount of detail that I can capture with the relatively affordable long lens, even when it’s extended to its maximum length. If you click on the image, you can see even more of those wonderful details.

mating damselflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Watching insects is sometimes like watching a Cirque du Soleil production, very colorful and incredibly acrobatic, like these mating damselflies that I photographed recently at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA.

damsel1_mating_blog damsel2_mating_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Damselflies have such narrow bodies that it’s often hard for me to get my camera to focus on them, but I love to chase after them, hoping to capture some of their beautiful colors. I was happy that I managed to get this shot of mating damselflies with enough detail to see some of the differences in coloration between the male and the female. I don’t dare try to explain the physiology of the mating process—I don’t really understand it and will leave that to the experts.

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Click on the photo to see a higher resolution view of it.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Damseflies are really small and if they were not brightly colored, they would be difficult to see. However, when there are two of them flying together (really together), they are slightly easier to detect. Anatomically speaking, I am having a little trouble figuring how the mating takes place with the damselflies as pictured below, but suffice it to say that damselflies are more flexible and acrobatic than I had previously thought.

I took these shots this afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA.  Getting a decent image was a bit of a challenge because I was shooting from a raised boardwalk almost two feet above the water level and the damselflies keep landing on vegetation that was just in the shadows underneath the boardwalk. As a result, my position sometimes resembled that of the lighter-colored damselfly.

Close-up of mating damselflies

Mating damselflies

Acrobatic mating damselflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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