A few weeks back, I was relaxing after a big science event I had hosted at the museum field station where I work and was taking some photos. I was sitting on the platforms we have near the pond and watching green darners flying around, looking for some common whitetails and other early spring dragonflies. I noticed a large spreadwing damselfly on a plant in a strange position and slowly approached so I could get a photo. This is what I saw:
She was laying eggs! You can see her egg laying tube, her ovipositor, protruding from her abdomen and stuck down into the plant in the photo. It’s the black pointy bit just to the right of her abdomen just above the plant. I watched for a little while and saw her pull her ovipositor out of the plant, move down a half a centimeter or so, and stick it back in several times.
Eventually I got distracted by a freshly emerged common whitetail and went over to take some photos of it. When I went back over to the pond, the damselfly was gone. However, you could clearly see the evidence that she had been laying eggs inside the plant:
I’ve read about spreadwings laying their eggs in plants before, but hadn’t ever seen it. So exciting! The nymphs that hatch inside plants eventually make their way to the water where they will spend the rest of their childhoods as long, relatively large and robust damselfly nymphs with funky mouthparts. In this particular pond, few things get much bigger than the spreadwing nymphs, just the frogs, yellow-bellied sliders, and the three monster snapping turtles I saw sunning themselves last weekend. Always good to know that a pond you regularly get into has multiple gigantic snapping turtles lurking in it…
I’ve got a long list of things I want to share, so hopefully I’ll be able to get another post up soon!
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