Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Darner Attacks!

Dragonflies are often quite vulnerable while laying eggs.  Species like the Autumn Meadowhawk lay eggs while attached in tandem, and their egg laying process involves extensive hovering.  As a result, they're sitting ducks for darners on the lookout for a good meal.  We've often seen Paddle-tailed Darners (the Happy-face Dragonfly) grab Autumn Meadowhawks in tandem and take them to a nearby bush to be consumed.  The first dragonfly in the pair (the male) is usually the one that is eaten, which allows the female to escape.

The video below shows a darner attacking a pair of meadowhawks.  They escaped, and after a brief rest were able to resume egg laying as before.

The video also shows the interesting way that Autumn Meadowhawks lay their eggs.  First, they dip the female's abdomen into the water.  When they rise a droplet of water is attached to the end of her abdomen, and the pair then hovers for several seconds as she lays eggs into the droplet.  Now, how do they dislodge the water droplet to deposit the eggs into the vegetation?  Very simple – they swoop down and slam into the vegetation, giving the female a good "whack."  If I were ever to be reincarnated, I would not want to come back as a female Autumn Meadowhawk.

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