Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I don't know what to call this one

It was nearly noon and, as I walked on a trail at Howarth Park, two damselflies gracefully attached damselflies drifted past me, piquing my curiosity. When they landed on a blade of grass I began sketching.  I cleverly deduced that they were mating...until I saw that he appeared to be depositing sperm into her head or upper thorax. Curious, I looked on the web to see what I could find out about the sex lives of damselflies.

What I found would certainly be worthy of any soap opera, if these were humans and not insects! The two that I saw may have been courting -- the male chooses a female and attaches himself to her using special apparatus on his abdomen and her thorax. If she's interested she'll raise her abdomen to collect sperm that he's placed in his second abdominal segment. Females mate repeatedly but the male is capable of removing sperm from a previous donor. The last donor's sperm is the sperm which will be used for fertilization. Which leads to the second possible scenario regarding the two damselflies I sketched. Some males will remain attached to the female after mating to ensure that no other males have the chance to remove the sperm that they've contributed.

I drew the male in the upper left when the pair had changed position on the stalk. The pair  moved again before I could draw the female.

For more about damselflies and dragonflies visit these sites:
Cirrus Image
The University of Texas Arlington
New World Encyclopedia
Ron Lyons

3 comments:

  1. Beware, watching damselflies and dragonflies can be quite addictive! We got hooked about 5 years ago. Enjoy!

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  2. I've heard one should try to produce pictures that tell a story, and this must be the ultimate achievement -- working in a tiny little soap opera!

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  3. I always learn something new when I visit. Thanks Debbie.

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