A female Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros), one of the largest dragonflies in the east. A migratory species, averaging 3.4″ long. This is my first sighting. I watched her deposit eggs into pieces of lumber that edged a portion of the Vale of Cashmere. All the other species of dragonflies I’ve seen deposit their eggs in water. The first picture posted above was taken during a pause between deposits. When she returned to planting eggs, she was attached by a Cat Bird who zoomed out of the bushes. Something of a dog-fight ensued, on the ground and in the air. The dragonfly escaped, twice, but the bird suddenly hopped into the bushes and then emerged, flying off with the long insect. A big meal for the bird; when it flew off it looked like the prey had been de-winged. Extraordinary to be so close to the scene. Luckily for E. heros in general, though, a good number of eggs had been planted.A few minutes later, I noticed another depositing her eggs into a piece of water-logged rotten wood on the bottom of the Vale’s erstwhile pool.Here’s a close-up of the thorn-like ovipositor cutting in. (Still wowing myself over this action shot, btw.) The wing-like structures are the cerci, or anal appendages. I don’t know what their function is. When I first saw them — huge dragonfly, huge cerci, at least on this species — I thought some other insect was biting the dragonfly’s terminal appendage. Dragonfly sex makes the birds, bees, and Weiners all look like amateurs. In the latter case, of course…
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This work by Matthew Wills is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.