Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair)

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 12 October 2014. The pair was perched on the man-made berm that retains water in the 50-acre central wetland area.

The mating pair is “in wheel”: the male is on top; the female is on the bottom.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies are polymorphic: heteromorphs are duller in color than males; andromorphs are male-like in color. The female in this mating pair is an andromorph, as indicated by her red coloration.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Polymorphs, heteromorphs, and andromorphs, oh my! You may be asking yourself, “How can I remember the difference between the words heteromorph and andromorph?” It’s easy.

The prefix “hetero-” means different; the prefix “andro-” means man. In biology, the base- or root word “morph” means variant forms of an animal or plant. Putting it all together, “heteromorph” means different form; “andromorph” means man-like form. So an andromorph female dragonfly, like the one featured in this post, is a form that looks like a male of the same species.

Remember this one-word mnemonic: heterosexual. Everyone knows heterosexuals prefer mating with members of the opposite sex. Logically it follows that female heteromorphs will look different from males. And if you know that obvious fact, then you can always remember what female andromorphs look like. Like I said, easy!

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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