I heart you!

I was looking for mating pairs of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 10 August 2014. Meanwhile my friend Mark Jette spotted a mating pair of damselflies.

The Orange Bluet damselflies (Enallagma signatum) shown in the following photographs are “in wheel,” in which the male uses “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of his abdomen to hold the female by her neck/thorax while they are joined at their abdomens. The male, orange and black in color, is on top; the female, green and black in color, is on the bottom.

The copulatory, or wheel, position is unique to the Odonata, as is the distant separation of the male’s genital opening and copulatory organs. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 377-378). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The wheel position is sometimes referred to as “in heart” when damselflies mate.

Orange Bluet damselflies (mating pair, in wheel)

The preceding photograph was edited to highlight the heart shape formed by the mating pair of damselflies.

Orange Bluet damselflies (mating pair, in wheel)

The classic heart shape became deformed as time passed.

Orange Bluet damselflies (mating pair, in wheel)

In case you’re wondering, I spotted four- to five pairs of mating Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies but wasn’t fast enough to shoot a single photograph! Eastern Pondhawks mate quickly, often for just a few seconds and sometimes entirely in mid-air. Usually by the time you spot a mating pair and reach for your camera, the peep show is over: the pair separates when copulation is complete and the female starts laying eggs (oviposition) while the male hover-guards the female from other aggressive males.

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Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to “I heart you!”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Reblogged this on Mike Powell and commented:
    I spend a lot of time chasing dragonflies and damselflies, but my efforts pale in comparison with those of fellow blogger and photographer Walter Sanford. He has so much experience with them that he focuses much of his attention on photographing females and mating pairs. This posting contains some amazing shots of mating damselflies in a mating position that looks like a heart, a position that I doubt exists in the Kama Sutra.

  2. Ed Says:

    Excellent! I found you through Mike Powell’s blog.. 🙂

  3. Ron Scubadiver Says:

    Positioning of the branch makes for an interesting composition.

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