The Secret Lives of Insects

March 10, 2019

Even though Mel and I went for a very short walk today in terms of distance (less than a mile), we spent an inordinate amount of time (hours) taking pictures– of butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and turtles—but not a single bird!! We just didn’t see them!

The most interesting thing we saw on our walk today was a pair of monarch butterflies down on the ground either killing each other or engaged in ‘coitus’ (as Sheldon on Big Bang would say!). Mel had seen these two butterflies flitting about just moments before he heard a ‘thump’, after which the two butterflies fell to the ground. (So much drama!) The butterfly on the bottom (probably the girl) was not moving, but the one on top (probably the boy) was quite active. When all was said and done, the boy flew off and the girl looked dead. She was flat on the ground stiff as a board. So I slowly approached to take a closer look, and suddenly she popped up and flew away! I must say, I have never seen butterflies mate in quite this fashion before! How fascinating!

The other interesting activity I observed today was a large eastern pondhawk dragonfly devouring a damselfly! Wait what?? Cannabalistic dragonflies? What next? As it turns out, damselflies in love. I caught several of them in the act—which is not an easy thing to do! Damselflies aren’t much bigger than a large hat pin. They are hard to find even in the best of circumstances (unless you see them moving), but I’ve been trying to capture them using a 600mm telephoto lens and I have back up at least 6 feet just for the camera to achieve focus!! It’s kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack once I put the lens up to my eye and try to re-locate what I had barely seen with my naked eye just moments before.

Eastern Pondhawk eating a damselfly!
Damselflies mating
Three damselflies–two mating and one waiting!!

All in all an exciting day of sex and cannibalism!

Blue Dasher

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