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Meadowhawks Mating & Laying Eggs

9-30-24 autumn meadowhawks laying egg  043There is a genus of dragonflies, Sympetrum, referred to as meadowhawks, which emerge and fly in late summer and autumn, breeding in ponds and foraging over meadows. Mature males and some females of certain species of meadowhawks become bright red on part or all of their bodies. When breeding, the male grasps his mate behind her head with the appendages at the end of his abdomen and often does not release the female until after she has laid her eggs, which she typically does by dipping the tip of her abdomen in the water (see photo). The reason for this continued connection is related to the fact that a male dragonfly may remove sperm present in the female from any previous mating and replace it with his own packet of sperm, or spermatophore. In order to prevent this from happening, and to assure his paternity, a male dragonfly sometimes flies close to his mate, guarding her while she lays her eggs, or, in the case of meadowhawks, may fly in tandem with the female throughout the egg-laying process.

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3 responses

  1. Your posts are fascinating. Your patience and timing for photos is amazing!

    September 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm

  2. Wally Jenkins

    Dennis Paulson in Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East says that “some Meadowhawks fly long distances in tandem between mating and egg laying.” We recently observed this on the summit of Split Rock Mountain (NY) above Lake Champlain, when over the course of lunch 5 tandem pairs flew by. All were flying south but were not the migratory Black Meadowhawk (rare in VT) but rather one of our common Red species.

    September 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm

  3. Wally Jenkins

    A correction to my earlier post. Black Meadowhawks are not migratory. I meant to say Variegated Meadowhawks, and they are not found in VT.

    October 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm

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