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Posts Tagged ‘swamp darner ovipositing’

I was really excited on Saturday to spot this colorful female Swamp Darner dragonfly (Epiaeschna heros) depositing her eggs into a rotten log at Prince William Forest Park. Some female dragonflies (like this Swamp Darner) and all female damselflies have well-developed ovipositors at the tip of their abdomens that they use to insert their eggs into plant tissues at or below the water level. The first photo gives you a really good look at the Swamp Darner’s spike-like ovipositor in a raised position and the other shots show the ovipositor partially inserted into the log.

An alternative method for laying eggs is used by most dragonfly species. Rather than placing eggs in specific locations like the Swamp Darner, many female dragonflies lay their eggs in clusters directly onto the surface of the water or onto the mud along the water’s edge by tipping their abdomens multiple times against the water in different spots.

This whole process is fascinating to me and I have provided a rather simplified explanation of these different strategies for propagation of the dragonfly species. If you want to learn a bit more, I recommend an article by the Slater Museum of Natural History entitled Odonate Oviposition. Despite its scientific-sounding title, the article is quite easy to read and understand.

Swamp Darner

swamp darner

swamp darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you like to hang out in the swamp? Swamps may not be the most hospitable place for humans, but they provide a wonderful environment for all kinds of photogenic creatures. For example, the bright yellow Prothontary Warbler that I featured yesterday likes to hang out in a wooded swamp, unlike most warblers that prefer trees in a drier environment.

As I was photographing that bird two weeks ago at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed some very large dragonflies flying around in the same area.  I recognized them as Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) and I was thrilled when one of the females decided to deposit some eggs in a fallen log not far from where I was standing observing the warbler. I had to bend down a bit, but essentially my feet stayed in the same spot.

It is definitely cool to be able to photograph two such colorful species from the same spot. The experience is a good reminder not to get so focused on your primary subject that you lose sight of what is happening around you. You never know when an equally good or even better subject may be at your feet, above your head, or to your right or left.

Swamp Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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