Posts Tagged ‘mating pair’

Aurora Damsel (mating pair, in heart)

June 14, 2019

The mating pair of Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) shown in the following photograph is “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 — blue, yellow, and black in color — is on top; the female — yellow 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.

04 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (mating pair)

Female C. conditum is polymorphic, including two morphs: an andromorph with blue coloration similar to male; or a heteromorph with an entirely yellow thorax, as shown above.

It’s helpful to take photos of mating pairs of damselflies, especially “in wheel,” since males and females of the same species can look quite different.

Taxonomy

C. conditum is a monotypic genus in the Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies).

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Aurora Damsel (male, mating pair)

May 31, 2019

An Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) was spotted along the shoreline of a small pond located in Prince William County, Virginia USA. Aurora Damsel is a new species for my life list odonates.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. Speaking of coloration, notice the underside of the male’s thorax is yellow — a key field mark for Aurora.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (male)

A mating pair of Aurora Damsel was spotted at the same location. This pair is “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-right; the female on the lower-left.

After copulation, Aurora Damsel engages 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 most species of damselflies and some species of dragonflies to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (mating pair)

Female C. conditum is polymorphic, including two morphs: blue coloration similar to male; or with an entirely yellow thorax, as shown above.

It’s helpful to take photos of mating pairs of damselflies, especially “in tandem,” since males and females of the same species can look quite different. The preceding photo is slightly overexposed. As a result, the yellow coloration on both the male and female looks a little washed out.

Credits

Sincere thanks to Gary Myers for the tip that enabled Mike Powell and me to find this uncommon damselfly. See Aurora Damsels in action for Mike’s take on our first time seeing this species.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Northern Black Racer (mating pair)

September 30, 2018

A mating pair of black snakes, probably Northern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor constrictor), was spotted during a photowalk along Little Hunting Creek at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Information about this species, provided by the Virginia Herpetological Society, leads the author to infer mating Northern Black Racers are observed uncommonly.

Head hunting

The snakes were mating on a bed of Virginia Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica).

21 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snakes (mating pair)

My eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be when I was younger. As a result, it was challenging for me to find the head of both snakes. Look closely — both heads are shown in each of these photos.

21 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snakes (mating pair)

Head shots

After a few wide-angle shots, I turned my attention to close-ups of the head. I’m not sure I captured a head shot for both snakes.

Northern Black Racers have a huge, all-black eye with an “eyebrow” ridge that makes racers look angry and somewhat dangerous all the time. Source Credit: Kevin Munroe, former Park Manager, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County Park Authority.

The “eyebrow” ridge is especially noticeable in the following photo.

21 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snakes (mating pair)

21 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snakes (mating pair)

From this viewpoint, it appears one of the snakes may be getting ready to shed.

21 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snakes (mating pair)

The parting shot

Direct eye contact can be unnerving when one is perhaps a little too close to a snake. Time to go!

21 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snakes (mating pair)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Robber Flies (mating pair)

September 2, 2018

A mating pair of Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes), a species of robber fly (Family Asilidae), was spotted during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

There’s an obvious difference in the appearance of male and female Red-footed Cannibalflies: the male’s abdomen is “tiger-striped” for its entire length; the female’s abdomen is two-thirds tiger-striped, one-third black. Therefore, the male is shown on the upper-right in the following photo; the female on the lower-left.

23 AUG 2018 | OBNWR | Red-footed Cannibalflies (mating pair)

The next photo shows the male on the upper-left; the female on the lower-right.

23 AUG 2018 | OBNWR | Red-footed Cannibalflies (mating pair)

The last photo shows the female on the left; the male on the right.

23 AUG 2018 | OBNWR | Red-footed Cannibalflies (mating pair)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Stream Bluet damselflies (mating pair, in tandem)

August 5, 2018

A mating pair of Stream Bluet damselflies (Enallagma exsulans) was spotted during a stream-walk along South Fork Quantico Creek in Prince William Forest Park (PWFP), Prince William County, Virginia USA. This pair is in tandem.

After copulation, Stream Bluet engages 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.

26 JUN 2018 | PWFP | Stream Bluet (mating pair, in tandem)

Female E. exsulans is polymorphic, including two morphs: green or blue thorax; abdomen similar to male for both morphs. The female shown in the preceding photo is a green morph.

Look closely at the posterior end of the female’s abdomen. All female damselflies (and some species of dragonflies) use an ovipositor to insert fertilized eggs into vegetation (endophytic oviposition). Notice the white spheroid at the tip of her ovipositor. That’s either a single egg or egg cluster/mass, probably the former.

Now look at the male. He appears to be “recharging” for mating again: Sperm is transferred from the genital opening under abdominal segment nine (S9) to the secondary genitalia located under abdominal segment two (S2). Remember all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen.

Editor’s Notes

Thanks to my good friend Mike Boatwright, administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for verifying my tentative identification of the species of damselfly. Also thanks to Sue Gregoire, Kestrel Haven Migration Observatory, for sharing her expert opinion that my photo shows a single egg at the tip of the female’s ovipositor.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Mosquito Hawks

July 26, 2018

I’m honored to announce several of my dragonfly photographs are featured on new signage at Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center, Clayton County, Georgia. The info-graphic, entitled “Mosquito Hawks,” was created by Danielle Bunch, Senior Conservationist for Clayton County Water Authority.

Image used with permission from Danielle Bunch.

As a retired K-12 science educator, I know from first-hand experience that informal learning opportunities can be as valuable as formal education in school classrooms. I was glad to contribute several of my photographs of Common Green Darner dragonflies (Anax junius) to the new info-graphic for the wetland area. It’s flattering to share the stage with Giff Beaton, author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast.

Full-size versions of my photographs (featured on the signage) appear in several previous posts on my photoblog.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sable Clubtail dragonfly (female)

July 16, 2018

A Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) was spotted perched near a small stream located in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her rounded hind wings and terminal appendages.

Female: Colored like male but a bit more yellow on abdomen, including fine dorsal lines on segments and prominent patches on edges of S8–9. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 6092-6093). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The first photo is the best shot from a set of “record shots,” that is, quick-and-dirty shots that provide a record of the spotting. As is. This is the first female Sable Clubtail that I have seen.

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

The next photo is my favorite in the set. Notice the tattered wings of this mature female — looks like she’s been working hard to perpetuate the small population of S. rogersi at this location!

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

The last photo provides a dorso-lateral view of the female.

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

New late date for Northern Virginia

The adult flight period for Sable Clubtail is from 08 June to 25 June (peaks in mid-June) according to records for Northern Virginia maintained by Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park. 05 July extends the old record by 10 days.

According to records for the Commonwealth of Virginia maintained by Dr. Steve Roble, a zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, 21 May to 24 July is the adult flight period for S. rogersi.

Reproducing population

There is a small reproducing population of S. rogersi at this location, as evidenced by my spotting of a mature female and Dr. Edward Eder’s observation of a mating pair (in wheel) on 21 June 2018. Great catch, Ed!

Image used with permission from Dr. Edward Eder.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (mating pair)

June 26, 2018

A mating pair of Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (Calopteryx maculata) was spotted near a small forested stream at Occoquan Regional Park. The male is shown on the left; the female on the right.

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

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pairs, in wheel)

January 11, 2018

Several mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were spotted during a photowalk around a vernal pool at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

Both pairs are “in wheel“: the male is on top; the female is on the bottom.

All odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back. Male dragonfly secondary genitalia, called hamules, are located in segments two and three (S2 and S3); female genitalia in segment eight (S8). Dragonflies form the mating wheel in order for their genitalia to connect during copulation.

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

Editor’s Note: Careful readers may be thinking “Hey, wait a minute — you said you spotted several mating pairs, but the post features photos of just two pairs.” Good catch! The photos of two more mating pairs didn’t make the final cut because the focus was slightly soft in all of those photos.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pairs, in tandem)

November 8, 2017

Two mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were photographed at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area (MRA), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Both pairs are “in tandem.”

The first pair is perching on the small wooden dock at Hidden Pond: the male is on the upper-right; the female is on the lower-left.

27 OCT 2017 | MRA | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in tandem“)

The last pair is perching on an American sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) growing alongside the dock. I love the way the fall coloration of the tree leaves complements the coloration of the dragonflies! The male is on the upper-left; the female is on the lower-right.

27 OCT 2017 | MRA | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in tandem“)

Tech Tips

The photographs in this gallery were taken using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera set for ~24x zoom (focal length of 600mm, 35mm equivalent), and Canon 580EX Speedlite external flash (manual mode).

In order to reduce “camera shake,” the camera was set for shutter priority mode. Using the reciprocal rule, the shutter speed was set for 1/800s. The ISO was set for “100.” An inexpensive Sunpak 6700M aluminum monopod was used for added stability.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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