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Blue Damselfly by Jennifer Parkhouse

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Jennifer Parkhouse

on 22 July 2013

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Transcript of Blue Damselfly by Jennifer Parkhouse

Shenandoah River
Winchester Virginia
to my kayak
The most common
summertime visitor
Enallagma cyathigerum
Blue Damselflies have a complicated reproductive cycle
These Damselflies are in the midst of the mating ritual. They have come to rest on my leg while I float in the river.
The reproductive system for damselflies is very interesting. The male of the species is much more colorful than the female. Once the male finds a mate he takes a drop of sperm on the end of his abdomen and bends his abdomen under to attach the sperm to his underside just aft of his walking legs. He uses special grabbers on the tip of his abdomen to hold his mate by the neck. When the female is ready she bends her abdomen back and retrieves the sperm. She puts it into her reproductive tract. The two insects form the shape of a heart, they can fly like this or settle down. Once the female has fertilized her eggs she dives under water. Using the sharp specially designed tip of her abdomen to slice into a plant stalk, she inserts the tube shaped eggs. They hatch underwater and the cycle begins again (Harris, 2011).
Blue damselflies are beautiful, fast and very interesting to observe. Try a slow float down a river in North America any summer day and you will be entertained by them. They may even settle on you to eat.
Damselflies are fierce hunters.
Their speed and agility in the air
allow them to hunt in flight.
As nymphs, they are also carnivores.
Helping to rid us of mosquitoes,
by eating their larva among other
small animals underwater.
Damselfly Habitat
Damselflies are continually confused with dragonflies. There are several important differences. Most noticeably, the dragonfly never folds its wings when at rest, while the damselfly folds the wings vertically in line with their bodies. Dragonflies have thicker abdomens and eat while flying, unlike the tendency for the damselfly to settle on something to eat. While in nymph stage they each have very different gills. A dragonflies gills are internal while the damselfly gills are external, and look like three feathers on the tip of their abdomen (Jacob, 2003).
Damselflies share this beautiful habitat with dragonflies.
Damselfly Nymph
The feather looking appendages on the end of the tail are the gills.
If a predator tears one off it will grow back quicly.
Damselflies live in and out of the water throughout
the three stage life cycle.
A damselfly will spend up to three years in this stage.
Incredible eyesight helps hunting
in flight.

Damselfly are very important to a river ecology. The food chain is complete with damselflies nymphs eating and being eaten underwater.
Fish love to eat damselfly
so much, fishermen usually employ lures designed to look like them
for more successful fishing.
Winter on the Shenandoah
When winter arrives, sadly the beautiful adult damselflies die. The nymphs seek deep water to hibernate. In the spring they will return to shallower water and mature to leave the water as the life cycle continues.
Harris, T. (2011). Invertebrates. Tucson, AZ: Brown Bear Books.
Imes, R. (1992). The Practical Entomologist. New York, NY: Quarto Publishing.
Jacob, L. (2003). Wild Wild World Dragonflies. Farmington Hills , MI: Blackbirch Press.
Lawrence, M. (1990). Eyewitness Book Insect. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Pintus, K. (2011, April nd). Common Blue Damselfy. Retrieved from Arkive.org: http://www.arkive.org/common-blue-damselfly/enallagma-cyathigerum/factsheet
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