I spotted the following Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, specifically a heteromorph, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

All male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”) and a lower unpaired epiproct (“inferior appendage”). Female dragonflies have a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function.

Notice anything unusual about the following photo, taken a few seconds after the other photo? The female dragonfly appears to have a third “appendage” between its cerci. Turns out she’s excreting. Hey, don’t be embarrassed — every living thing does it!

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 in a two-part series of photoblog posts related to observations of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) eating and excreting, two essential life functions. Last post: “Eat.”

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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