The Secret Life of a Damselfly

While fishing for trout at the pond in my father-in-law’s Northwest Montana home, I noticed that there were hundreds of beautiful, silent, blue flying insects near the edge of the water. Abandoning my fly rod for my camera, I lay on my stomach amid damp earth and pungent Canada goose droppings to take some close up photos. This showed some dedication since during the entire shoot cutthroats were splashing and rolling at the water’s edge two feet away.

Hanging out together seemed to be importantI was getting eye-ball-to-eye-ball with the damselfly, the blue-fronted dancer to be exact. Although during its short one year life this insect spends most of its time in the water as an naiad, once they mature they shed their skin for the final time, inflate their wings and abdomen, and begin life as adults. Then it’s time to mate. A mating pair form a shape known as a “heart” or “wheel”, the male clasping the female at the back of the head, the female curling her abdomen down to pick up sperm from secondary genitalia at the base of the male’s abdomen. Fascinating, right?

Mating damselflies

As so often in the animal world, the males are prettier than the females. The males have bright blue bodies while the females are predominantly brown with some shade of blue on their heads.

Why are they called dancers? Rather than flying in a straight line they appear to dance along the top of the water and around the grasses at the water’s edge.

Finally, apparently having damselflies in your pond is a sign that the ecosystem is healthy. That’s a good thing.

A dragon fly was hanging and watching the action

The guys are hanging out waiting for the chicks to pass by



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Patti Hart

Patti has been traveling the world with Morgan since 1974 and loving every minute of it.  She's responsible for the photography and editing on the MagoGuide website as well as making occasional contributions.  Patti also generates the graphics and edits the MagoGuide products (e.g., the Mago Scrolls).  She recently built and published the iPhone and iPad application for MagoGuide. Finally, she is responsible for this website including code that tailors the content to what readers are interested in seeing.  In other words, a very busy lady.

4 thoughts on “The Secret Life of a Damselfly

    1. Yep. It wasn’t until I reviewed the photos on the computer that I realized that there were all these shed exoskeletons around!

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