Sympetrum sanguineum (Bloedrode heidelibel (BE) / Ruddy Darter (EN) / Blutrote Heidelibelle (DE) / Sympétrum rouge sang (FR) ) is a species of dragonfly of the family Libellulidae.
First of all: The yellowish brown specimen below is a female, the red section in the top of the image is the abdomen of a male... but why is that red abdomen in that position? What is happening? This image is all about mating, but this needs some explaining:
Most adult dragonfly males occupy territories near the water. These territories are defended against other males. When a female of the same species enters the territory of a male, the male grabs her behind or between the eyes. To do so, males have special designed appendages at the end of segment 10 (at the tip of the abdomen). (note: Female odonates also have appendages, but very small and functionless. These are called cerci.) In this image you can clearly see the apendages of the male grabbing behind the eyes of the female. The shape of the appendages of a species is typical for that species which prevents bastardising. For us it can be a great help to get the right determination of the species.
Two dragonflies being attached to each other this way are called a tandem - that is what you see in the image.
But of course the story continues:
Before forming a tandem the male transfers his sperm from the opening underneath segment 9 to the copulation device underneath segment 2 by making a loop of his (very flexible) abdomen. When the tandem is formed, the female reaches to this copulation device with her genitalia, located underneath her segments 8 and 9. Now a loop, called copula or mating wheel is formed. I showed such a mating wheel in this image). During the copulation, males of some species remove the sperm of earlier copulations (=other males) from the female’s genitalia.
After the copulation, the females start ovipositing. Most Sympetrum species remain in tandem during ovipositing. The other ones divide after copulation. With many of these species, males guard the females during ovipositing, hovering above them or sitting near them on a plant or stone.
Image: Deurne (BE) - 14/08/2010
the same species fit. Very rarely however, bastardising occurs.
© Johan Dierckx
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