[JAC] Since we had dragonflies this morning, I thought I’d put up this post by Matthew that he kindly wrote and saved as a draft. It was from about three days ago.
by Matthew Cobb
The other day I posted some photos of a male dragonfly, Sympetrum striatum, which I found in the quad of the Michael Smith building at the University of Manchester, where I work. Today I was in the quad, chatting in the sun with my ex-postdoc, Micheline, who has come back to the lab to finish an experiment in Maggot Mind Control™, when I spotted a dragonfly hovering over the pond. In fact, it was a mating pair. It was hard to get a good photo. This is the best I could do…
The male is the red insect, and this ‘mating wheel’ is classic for dragonflies. The female is collecting his sperm, while the male holds her head and she grips the end of her abdomen. After mating is complete, the male continues to guard the female, so that another male cannot mate with her until she has laid all her eggs. In this species, the female casts her eggs into the water. In other species she will delicately lay her eggs on plants.
The key thing is – this means we will have a load of vicious predators in the pond: dragonfly nymphs. And in a year or two there’ll be more dragonflies! Hooray!