Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Wheel Position: tricky.

Featuring Aeshna sp.

"You sure we’re doing this right? It seems so, so counterintuitive. What does the book say?"

From Cannings (2002, p. 12): “Females coming to water to breed quickly attract mates. With the appendages at the tip of the abdomen, a male grasps a female by the front of the thorax (damselflies) or by the top of the head (true dragonflies). This head to tail arrangement is called the tandem position. Before joining with a female or even while in the tandem position, the male transfers sperm from the tip of his abdomen to his penis, which is under the second abdominal segment. The female then loops the end of her abdomen up to the penis so that the male can transfer sperm to her.

"Could this possibly be more complicated?"

The Odonata are the only insects that mate in this circular formation, called the wheel position, which they maintain for a few seconds or several hours, depending on the species.”

"You wonder why this hasn’t caught on."


Cannings, R.A. 2002. Introducing the Dragonflies of British Columbia and the Yukon. Royal British Columbia Museum. 96 pp.


Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

snicker snicker dragonfly sex. very funny. Sorry my 13-year-old got out.

kompoStella said...

how absolutely, strangely fantastic! i had no idea that they were having fun when in that position... actually i don't know what i thought... goes to show how little most of us ponder the wonder that is the world ;-)
and yes, i agree, it is also very funny!
thanks for wheeling this out.