Mating Striped Meadowhawks

Mating Wheel

Several pairs of the striped meadowhawks (Sympetrum pallipes) I mentioned yesterday were mating. These meadowhawks were in the wet, grassy area surrounding Lily Pond in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Male striped meadowhawks defend territories near still water awaiting females. Sometimes they will actively pursue nearby females. “Courtship” begins with a male using clamp-like holders on the end of his abdomen to grab a female by her mesostigmal plates, located on her head. The male then bends his abdomen to try to draw the female toward him. If the female is not sexually responsive or unwilling to accept the male, he may hang on for a period of time before releasing the female. The male, if accepted, and female copulate in the air in tandem flight, a wheel position. While still in the mating wheel the female oviposits eggs on the surface of the water or drops the eggs on the vegetation surrounding the water. Once the eggs are deposited, the male and female leave. Any larvae (nymphs) that hatch from the eggs are on their own.  

It was interesting to watch the males approach females and grab on. Sometimes the interaction was very brief and I assume the female was not responsive. Other times the pair would remain together for a long period of time, flying in tandem, eventually dipping low over the water and grass. These were probably the pairs that successfully mated and oviposited.

Note the red coloration of the male and the yellow-green or olive female.

Although I got soaked in the marshy grass surrounding the pond, I was delighted to observe the striped meadowhawk dragonflies mate and oviposit.

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