Mating Wheel

I spied this mating pair of damselflies on the sea wall at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Damselfly and dragonfly males deposit sperm in a pouch near the front of their abdomen. Prior to mating, the males bend the tip of the abdomen to deposit sperm in the pouch. During mating, the males grasp the female between the head and thorax with the claspers on the end of their abdomen. The female bends the end of her abdomen to collect sperm from his pouch. This behavior is called a mating wheel.

During egg laying, the male and female of some species fly in tandem with the male grasping the female behind the head. This is a form of mate guarding in which the male prevents the female from mating with other males to ensure his lineage. The female may receive some extra lift from the male to pull her out of the water. Attachment to a protective male allows the female damselfly to concentrate on laying eggs instead of being distracted by courting males. How this unusual behavior and secondary sexual organs developed in this group of insects is a subject of speculation among entomologists.

For tourists on vacation, mating damselflies add a touch of beauty and (insect) romance to the atmosphere.

Mating Damselflies

Mating Damselflies

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

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