Damselfly mating is generally composed of several distinct stages – territory establishment, mate selection and acceptance, copulation and ovipositing.
Once mating has occurred damselflies lay their eggs either alone or with the male on guard to protect the female while she deposits her eggs. The vivid dancer (Argia vivida – see 07-07-14 “Vivid Dancer”) demonstrates an interesting behavior while ovipositing. The male balances above the female by attaching the four terminal appendages at the end of his abdomen to the female’s thorax. The male remains in this position until the female deposits her eggs in vegetation just below the water line in still water. Not only is the male defending the female from predators, he is also insuring that another male damselfly does not mate with the female. A second suitor might remove the first male’s sperm from the female and replace it with his own sperm. Fascinating!
These vivid dancers were photographed while tandem ovipositing in Ash Creek upstream from the Lower Campground (Lassen County CA).