Monday, September 8, 2008

More Damsels Than Dragons

I guess it is part of the life cycle of the various species, but I have been seeing fewer dragonflies lately and more damselflies at the pond. Interestingly though, I have seen some new dragonflies, but I will leave that for another post.

Anyway, with fewer dragons I've been spending more time observing the damsels. I have posted a few photo's of damselflies mating and laying eggs, but I thought I would share a few more.

Each of the species has its own specific requirements and behavior in breeding and depositing eggs. Many of the pond damselflies, however, share a similar process. I will not bore you with the technical aspects, but basically when mating the male will actually attach himself to the female by grasping her behind the head with appendages on the end of his body.

The female will then curl up under the male bringing the tip of her body into contact with the male to fertilize her eggs. This position is often called a 'wheel'. Ironically, in many species the mating position happens to resemble a heart, but I doubt love has much to do with this whole procedure.

Often the pair will remain attached for some time and fly 'in tandem'. Frequently the male will maintain the hold on the female as the pair lands and the female deposits the eggs. This could be on plants or directly in the water, but most that I observe are actually in the water of the pond primarily within floating vegetation. Basically the male remains attached to ensure that the female does not mate with a competitor prior to laying the eggs.

The positions both the male and female can maintain are fascinating. The long, slender body originally looks very rigid in a solitary damselfly. However, it is made up of segments with joints in between which can bend producing some very interesting positions.

I was able to take a few videos of a pair depositing eggs in the floating plant matter along the edge of the pond. The first one is interesting in that it shows how they sometimes hop from spot to spot.

Check out some of the other creatures, also. You can see how much life is all around in the pond. You can see the various insects that are continually moving along on top of the water and if you watch the clear water off to the side you will see numerous small fish swimming by. And keep in mind that those bugs and small fish will give you an idea of the size of the damselflies. These are not the smallest ones, but they certainly aren't very large.

Please Note: These videos include audio that can be adjusted on the videos. The audio is not excessively loud, but you may want to adjust the initial volume settings depending on your situation.

Damselflies Ovipositing from BakerWatson on Vimeo.

This second video is a bit shorter but it includes some interesting views of the female dipping much of her body into the water to lay the eggs more deeply.

Damselflies Ovipositing (2) from BakerWatson on Vimeo.

By the way, some of the background sound you may hear in the video is not the wings flapping or anything interesting like that. It's just a tractor. One of the neighbors was cutting grass in a field nearby. Also, you may note that the male is flapping his wings rather vigorously at times when the two are stationary. This is primarily due to a strong breeze requiring him to flap his wings to keep the pair balanced and in one place.


  1. Wonderful as usual Baker. I'll have to come back and watch the videos! I'm being kicked of the computer by my daughter! LOL!

  2. I adore your site. As a woman living in the city, but in love with nature, you are a god-send.

    I've given you an award, which you can see/pick up at my blog:

    Thanks, Dano.

  3. I enjoyed these Baker as I have not seen the dragons that close laying eggs. Nice job!!!!

  4. ladykli - hope you made it back to check out the videos

    dano -it's always nice to see you have dropped by to visit - thanks so much for the award and the kind comments - since we try to keep the blog posts primarily about the pond and surroundings we have created a sidebar item listing any awards our visitors have so graciously presented to us - it includes a link directly to the specific post in your blog

    michelle - they are pretty amazing little creatures - unfortunately we are already seeing fewer of them and within about 6 weeks I'm sure most of them will be gone until next spring

    collen - thanks for dropping by - hope to see you again soon



Thanks for stopping by to visit our little pond. We would love to see you again real soon.