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Sympetrum sanguineum

Posted by
Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 25 August 2010 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

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.

Canon EOS 400D 1/160 second F/7.1 ISO 200 150 mm

© Johan Dierckx

The photos on this site are copyrighted, which prohibits anyone to use them to sell, give away, use in email or newsgroups, use in a homepage or otherwise showing to the public without my explicit, prior, written permission. Please feel free to use the "contact"-button below to contact me with any questions.

All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.

(To see species in the same taxonomic rank (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus), please use the tags provided with the image. The last tag is the Iso-code for the country where the image was taken. Image-date in DD/MM/YYYY format.)

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Monique from Koh Samui, Thailand

Auw, dat ziet toch echt wel pijnlijk uit! Bedankt voor de heldere uitleg en dito foto, prachtig om dit van zo dichtbij te zien!

25 Aug 2010 5:22am

@Monique: Geen idee of het pijnlijk is, maar aangezien de aanhangsels zeer soortspecifiek zijn, zou ik denken dat ze heel erg precies moeten passen bij het vrouwtje en ze er dus niet zo erg veel last van moet hebben. De natuur zit toch wonderlijk in mekaar he ...

daniela scharnowski from Berlin, Germany

Oh what a marvellously photographed detail Johan! Congrats on this! I only managed to catch a mating wheel of damselflies in total - with flash (-1ev on the flash) and without - and as to be foreseen - the natural light shots do look more natural...^^ the colours just don´t fit ;D

Re: your comment on the Queen of Spain - no I just magaed this single shot - much too much hectic butterflies on the bushes of lucerne that day - and I only met that species that time... but I got a lot more shots of the Kaisermantel ;D I also found some C-Falter (didn´t look up the name in english since....., too much shots to sort out atm....
My youngest will have his inschooling ceremonie on saturday and I´m busy like a bee...bzzz, daniela

25 Aug 2010 6:01am

@daniela scharnowski: Thank you for the compliments again. I almost never use flash in my images for the reason you give here and because natural light is so much richer then flash.

NB. I did find the Issoria lathonia on my trip yesterday ! Indeed a very active species and not very willing to show the underside of the wings. Got a few registration-shots but don't know if there will be some realy good ones - still have to sort (you know that problem... )

Loner from Wörgl, Austria

Guten Morgen, Johan ! Wir haben schon oft das Paarungsrad der Blutroten Heidelibelle gesehen, aber noch nie so im Detail. Nicht nur ich, auch mein Mann ist fasziniert !

25 Aug 2010 7:38am

@Loner: For me it is also very fascinating to see all these details. I was lucky to get this close to get a good look and a clean shot of this. Nature is always surprising. Have a nice day, both !

JOSE LUIS BERNAL from Jerez de la Fra. (Cádiz), Spain

Nunca había visto algo parecido. Ese cuerno que le sale de la cabeza es impresionante. Excelente captura sobre todo la nitidez y saturación de los colores. Felicidades. Un saludo

25 Aug 2010 8:14am

@JOSE LUIS BERNAL: Thank you very much, Jose. I'm sorry to answer in English, I don't speak spannish. (Translated your comment with Google translator).

♏arleen from Netherlands

Geweldig om dit zo close te zien en dank voor de uitleg- het is een ingewikkelde procedure althans voor de lezer, de libellen hoeven er vast niet over na te denken;-))
Heb kortgeleden zo'n tandem gefotografeerd, maar kon helaas niet zo goed dichtbij komen....

25 Aug 2010 8:58am

@♏arleen: Deze bleven echt een hele tijd zitten in de vegetatie aan de rand van een vijvertje. Ik ben begonnen met de volledige tandem erop te zetten en dan telkens een stukje dichterbij ... en dichterbij ... tot deze opnamen toe. Die kans heb je uiteraard niet al te vaak, maar ik was zelf ongelooflijk versteld van alle details die te zien zijn. En eh... libellen hoeven dit dan ook niet te lezen he :p

kitty from Seoul, South Korea

Wow! Great shot of something that is hard to see and thanks so much for the explanation ^^

25 Aug 2010 9:29am

@kitty: Thank you very much for your comment on this one, Kitty.

chris B from Netherlands

Geweldige Macro,s prachtige site

25 Aug 2010 9:34am

@chris B: Bedankt voor je bezoekje en je commentaar, Chris. Ik wens je nog een fijne dag.

Veronique from Sarrouilles, France


25 Aug 2010 10:32am

@Veronique: nature always is ... Almost every photo-trip I discover something new ...

Wolfen from Villefranche S/S, France

Géant !!! et techniquement réussi !
Et avec le commentaire !!
J'adore !! bravo !! 5*****

25 Aug 2010 4:24pm

@Wolfen: Thank you very much for your appreciation. Glad you like it that much !

Mascha from Kootstertille, Netherlands

Prachtig uitgesneden , Fantastische Kleuren en details !
Wat zijn Ze Mooi !

25 Aug 2010 7:22pm

@Mascha: Dit is ongeveer 90% uitsnede van het oorspronkelijke beeld. Gewoon even de compositie wat rechtgezet, want dat was op het terrein het laatste van mijn zorg - adem inhouden en zo dicht mogelijk geraken zolang ze bleven zitten ... Die gelegenheid krijg je niet elke dag natuurlijk... Ik heb nog enkele opnamen iets dichter bij kunnen maken, maar die zijn jammer genoeg niet voldoende qua scherpte.

Shayna from Seeley, Canada

What a wonderful macro! Bravo!

25 Aug 2010 10:10pm

@Shayna: Thank you very much for your visit and comment, Shayna.

Sangeeth from Taipei, Taiwan

beautiful...that is a really sharp image

26 Aug 2010 12:24am

@Sangeeth: Thank you very much, Sangeeth.

Marilla from Turku, Finland

Great capture and fantastic details!

26 Aug 2010 8:27am

@Marilla: A once in a lifetime opportunity to get this close I think ...

Dutçh from Chicagoland, United States

The explanation you give here is incredible and also shows the uniqueness of nature. So glad we don't have to get all twisted around like that! ;)

26 Aug 2010 3:31pm

@Dutçh: Nature is always so fascinating and surprising .... And euhm... I know some of "us" do ... :P

Dutçh from Chicagoland, United States

Hehehehe! :P

27 Aug 2010 3:07am

Julie Brown from Indianapolis, United States

The detail you have captured here is awesome, Johan. The dragonfly mating process is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this information.

28 Aug 2010 11:41pm

@Julie Brown: You're welcome, Julie. For me it is always interesting to know what you see and I think most people have no idea about this image ...

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

amazing macro

8 Sep 2010 4:34pm

@Magda: It looks like you visited almost my entire portfolio :-) Thanks for making time to comment on so many images and i'm realy glad you enjoyed looking at them. Greetz !

Canon EOS 400D
1/160 second
ISO 200
150 mm