Hook-up on Aruba

Most species of dragonflies are skittish; some are “friendly.” Maybe a little too friendly! Like the following mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted recently at Huntley Meadows Park.

The first mating pair is shown “in wheel,” perching on my leg: the male is on top; the female on the bottom.

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel, perching on my leg (Columbia pants).

21 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, in wheel)

I’m wearing a pair Columbia “Aruba IV” convertible pants, hence the title of this blog post. And you thought I was talking about a romantic encounter on an island in the Caribbean Sea!

The pants feature “Omni-Shade™ UPF 30 sun protection” that makes the fabric reflective, and the subject was very close to my camera (remember the inverse square law of light). In order to avoid blown-out photo highlights, I needed to set my external flash unit for the lowest power ratio (1/128). The net result: slightly underexposed images of the dragonflies.

The mating pair was “in wheel” when the dragonflies landed on my leg. After a couple of minutes, the female disconnected from the male’s hamules; the pair remained “in tandem.”

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel/tandem, perching on my leg (Columbia pants).

21 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, in tandem)

What happens after odonates copulate? Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies engage in a form of guarding behavior known as “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. Contact guarding is used by some species of odonates to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

The last mating pair is shown in tandem, perching on my leg: the male is on the lower-left; the female on the upper-right.

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in tandem, perching on my leg (Columbia pants).

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, in tandem)

The olive drab color of my Columbia pants (shown above) is less reflective than the khaki-colored pair I wore on the 21st. Net result: more balanced exposure of the subject and background.

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Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to “Hook-up on Aruba”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Super shots, Walter. So what attracts some dragonflies to some humans? Is it the color of the clothes, the scent of the body, or simply “any port in the storm?”

    • waltersanford Says:

      Good question, Mike. I’ll ask next time a dragonfly lands on me. But seriously, many ode experts say some dragonflies are attracted to particular colors such as gray or tan.

  2. Christy Says:

    Wow Walter, that’s a good day, isn’t it? What’s better than having your favorite subject land close to you? It’s having your subject land right on your leg. While mating.

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