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Darners Laying Eggs

9-1-15 dragonfly laying egg 135Females of different species of dragonfly have different techniques for laying their eggs. Most skimmers, cruisers and clubtails dip the tip of their abdomen to the surface of the water while hovering or flying, and release their eggs. Most darners, such as the Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) pictured, have a sharp-edged ovipositor with which they slit open a stem or leaf of a plant on or near the water. They then push their egg into the plant tissue exposed by the slit. Because they are stationary during this process, female darners are vulnerable to predation by fish and frogs at this time. A close look at the bottom third of cattail leaves this time of year will tell you whether or not darners are in the vicinity, as the slits they make are very apparent, appearing as thin, tan, 1/2″ vertical lines.

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11 responses

  1. The damselflies were laying their eggs in Big Rocky Pond in Baxter Park one summer day, and I was there. The trout were lying in wait for them just below the surface, and grabbed at them furiously. Once I’d made a few alterations to a fly I had in my box, they discovered that one of those damselflies had a hook in it. It was a lovely half-hour!

    August 31, 2015 at 8:16 am

    • The keen eyes of a top-notch naturalist paid off!

      August 31, 2015 at 9:25 am

  2. Harmony Anderson

    How gorgeous she is! I wish I had a dress with a diaphanous overskirt of material like her wings and a black sheath underneath with splashes of the bright colors she has—and a place to wear it! The photo and her beauty brings tears to my eyes.

    August 31, 2015 at 8:37 am

    • What an exquisite description you gave.

      August 31, 2015 at 9:26 am

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    What a great photo. Is that brown, football-shaped thingy under the scythe-like cutter the actual egg?

    August 31, 2015 at 9:56 am

    • Kathie, an entomologist friend has this explanation for the “football!” (The Scythe-like cutter is the ovipositor.)

      …the “football” shaped object is one of the “valves”. These are hard plates (one on each side) that normally cover the ovipositor when it is not being used. They open up when the ovipositor is brought out for use.

      August 31, 2015 at 3:05 pm

  4. Wondering

    Shadow darners and Black-tipped darners (Aeshna tuberculifera) do look similar on the thorax, but the pattern on the abdomen (larger blue spots and no markings on the last segment, segment 10) make this a female black-tipped darner.

    *Michael H. Blust* Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Mexico Prof. Emer. Green Mountain College

    August 31, 2015 at 10:31 am

    • You’re absolutely right, Mike. I knew it was a black-tipped darner due to the fact that the lateral thoracic stripes were outlined in black, but forgot to switch the name before posting it! Believe me, I spent a long time trying to differentiate the two, and am glad you caught this!

      August 31, 2015 at 11:15 am

  5. why are they called darners?

    August 31, 2015 at 11:13 am

    • I honestly don’t know, Carol, but my guess is because they are one of the larger dragonflies, their abdomen resembles a darning needle?

      August 31, 2015 at 11:35 am

  6. GwenHawes

    My grandmother called them darning needles. She said they would sew my mouth shut if I said bad things!

    August 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm

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