We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at ...

We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at ...

We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust! The following post was originally published on July 24, 2020.

Now here's something you don't see everyday: two dragonflies preparing to mate! Before a weirdo with a camera interrupted their intimate moment, anyway.

These are gray petaltail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thoreyi). This species was featured in my July 8 nature update; interestingly, they're considered fairly uncommon in Virginia, but I keep finding them at my place.

So how do dragonflies mate? It's definitely not the easiest thing in the world. When the male spots an appropriate female, it uses special clasping structures at the end of its abdomen to grab the female by the prothorax (the dragonfly equivalent of the neck). If the female is receptive, she'll bend her abdomen forward and connect it to the underside of the second segment on the male's abdomen, thus allowing mating to take place. The completed formation is known as the "wheel formation," because the abdomens of the two dragonflies form a circle.

In this photo, the male is the lower of the two dragonflies, and the clasping structures on the tip of his abdomen are connected to the back of her neck. The female's abdomen, meanwhile, is straight out, which seems to suggest she's not too interested in buying what he's selling. Learn to take a hint, pal.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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