Turn, Wheel

by Carl Strang

I didn’t really expect to add any more species to the Mayslake Forest Preserve dragonfly list this year. The wheel of the seasons turns inexorably, and it’s late. But on the last day of September I encountered a different kind of wheel.

Lance-tipped 2b

There are two dragonflies in this photo. They are in the wheel position, a posture assumed by mating Odonata. The male, above, has grasped the female behind her head with the tip of his abdomen. She has brought the tip of her own abdomen to the base of his thorax, where she is acquiring a sperm packet and completing the wheel shape. These dragonflies clearly belong to the blue darner group of species, so I made an effort to get photos of the sides of their thoraxes and the tops of their abdomens.

Lance-tipped 3b

The stripes on the sides of the thorax are relatively straight here, with slight but significant wavers in their edges. Spots on the top of the abdomen are relatively large.

Lance-tipped 2b cropped

These characters point to lance-tipped darner as the species identification. Earlier in the season I found the similar shadow darner, with its distinctively smaller abdominal spots, at Mayslake.

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