By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez
I came across these dragonflies outside my lanai, which got me to thinking about dragonfly mating. Here’s what I found out:
1. A male dragonfly has two sets of sex organs.
2. He stores his sperm in a pouch, and before he has sex he must self-inseminate by moving the sperm into his penis. Can you call that dragonfly family planning?
3. Now he is ready to pounce on a flying female dragonfly. Here, it can get a bit unromantic. He grabs her head or thorax. Then he uses claspers on his body, and grips and holds either her abdomen or the back of her eyes.
4. Some dragonflies can get downright mean, even biting the base of the females wings to grab a hold of her.
5. A receptive female will curl the tip of her abdomen and they will form together a “dragonfly heart,” just like this photo shows.
6. Oftentimes, when they are done, the two will still fly in tandem, because the male wants to make sure that she can lay his eggs safely on a body of water. In this way, the male makes sure the eggs are carefully dropped before any other male dragonfly tries to land on her.
7. This part struck me a bit because I couldn’t think of any lake or pond nearby where these dragonflies could lay the eggs. It must be a dragonfly secret in my neighborhood. Either that, or the swimming pool.
1. Just as some humans can be physically abusive, so too can some dragonflies.
2. A study from the
by Sidney Dunkle studied 12 clubtail species, and learned that from 44-100 percent of all of the females had holes in their heads. This, Dunkle attributed to the hold of a male on the female during copulation. University of Florida
3. A particularly harsh dragonfly (out of some 5,000 species) is the Hagenius brevistylus, which has spines that have gouged out the eyes of the female, pierced her head with as many as six holes of varied sizes, and pierced and slashed her exoskeleton.
I dare not extrapolate. Here’s a link that I enjoyed watching about dragonfly mating and living habits.