Common Green Darner

One of my favorite dragonflies has always been the Common Green Darner.  It is very large and fast-flying, as all members of the Aeshnidae are, and brightly colored green and blue (green only for females).  This time of year they are migrating south, just like the birds and the monarchs.  A few years ago, some clever scientists glued little transmitters to them to track their migration down the east coast into the southern tier of states.  They can accumulate in large numbers, and are very conspicuous.  I managed to net one, in front of my class, no less, in our prairie at QU.  After an impromptu minilecture, I took it home and prepared it for my insect studio.  OK, I put it in the refrigerator. 

Looking pensive Sperm receptacle

It was a lot more cooperative after that.  Still, after it warmed up it would take off and fly around the room.  Gretchen was very excited by this.  I’m sure she thought it was her duty to kill it.    Males place their sperm in the receptacle at the base of the abdomen.  While gripping the female’s head with his cerci, she removes the sperm with the tip of her abdomen.  This wheel formation is characteristic of dragonflies.  Mate guarding occurs as the male holds on to the female’s head while she oviposits.

Jaws! Graphic

Order Odonata means “toothy” or something like that.  Here you can see the big mandibles that give them their name.  They can’t really bite people, as the gape is not large enough, though I could get this one to bite my fingernail.  I shot it on a white paper background, making it easy to isolate in Photoshop.  I created this graphic and opened a section in my online store for T-shirts and other products with this image at http://www.cafepress.com/showmejoe.  People love dragonflies.  The Latin name of this one is glorious: Anax junius.  Sounds like a superhero.

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