Monday, April 28, 2014

Familiar Bluet 1

As we the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center on 20 February 2014, Erika suddenly let out a whoop: “Odonate Alert!” Our first dragonflies of 2014, or, in this case, damselflies, flew about in good numbers below our marshland boardwalk. I knew that few odonates inhabit brackish habitats—brackish being a mixture of fresh and sea water. I took out my iPad and, in my copy of the Paulson dragonfly guide, searched for the word brackish. Since most odonates inhabit freshwater areas, I had limited choices for those in brackish areas.

One species that fits the habitat is the Familiar Bluet. The largely blue middle abdomen segments distinguish the male from other bluets. The females are similar to other bluets and are best identified by whom they are attached. The species is abundant across much of the United States

I have previously written about the fascinating world of dragonfly sex, wherein males and females form wheels, with the male guarding the female from competing males while she takes semen from his thorax. Familiar bluets often remain attached as they fly about, sometimes for over 30 minutes. He lets go when the female oviposts, after which she often rejects second couplings by him or one of the other males. Other times, however, the first pair again flies in tandem.

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