Insex | Part 1: Seeds

Adult dragonflies have one goal: reproduce; repeatedly. It’s a wonderful life.

The following photographs show a mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted on 30 October 2014 during a photowalk along the boardwalk in the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park. The pair is shown “in wheel.”

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.

All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen: male dragonfly secondary genitalia are located in segments two and three (2 and 3); female genitalia in segment eight (8). Therefore, the male dragonfly is on top; the female is on the bottom.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

The happy couple is perching on a dried cattail leaf (Typha sp.). Nearby cattail “flowers,” shown in the background, have started dispersing their tiny seeds.

The seeds are minute, 0.2 millimeters (0.0079 in) long, and attached to fine hairs. When ripe, the [flower] heads disintegrate into a cottony fluff from which the seeds disperse by wind. Source Credit: Typha, Wikipedia.

Look closely at the full-size versions of both photos. You can see several cattail plant seeds clinging to the same leaf on which the dragonflies are perching and mating. Spreading seeds — it’s a leitmotif in the symphony of life!

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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