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Dragonflies and Temperature Control

Often on hot, sunny days you will see dragonflies perched facing away from the sun, with their abdomens raised high in the air above them.  This position actually has a name – the obelisk posture – and some dragonflies and damselflies assume this position to prevent overheating.  They raise their abdomen  until its tip points at the sun, minimizing the surface area exposed to it.  The name given this posture comes from the fact that when the sun is directly overhead, the vertical alignment of the insect’s body suggests an obelisk. The meadowhawk dragonfly in the photograph  assumed  the obelisk posture several seconds after the sun came out from behind  the clouds.  As soon as the sun was obscured by clouds again, the dragonfly would lower its abdomen to a horizontal position. It continued doing this for a considerable amount of time.  Sometimes abdomens are raised for reasons other than temperature control, including threat displays during conflicts.

5 responses

  1. ht

    Mary, Our family enjoys every one of your posts, with its extra tidbit of information on the subject at hand. Thanks!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    • That makes my efforts so worthwhile. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know that you share my enthusiasm for the natural world!

      July 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

  2. Sally Page

    What an exquisite photograph! I feel incredibly lucky to see things through your lense.
    Thank you Mary.
    In awe and gratitude,
    Sally Page

    July 26, 2011 at 12:45 am

  3. You are very kind, Sally. It’s a bit presumptuous of me to think that what I find fascinating, others might too, so it’s really nice to know that you share my sense of wonder!

    July 26, 2011 at 2:38 am

  4. Beautiful!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:00 am

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