SPINE-TUFTED SKIMMER MATING and OVIPOSITING

“The Spine-tufted Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysis, family Libellulidae) is a relatively widespread dragonfly species that may inhabit a wide range of habitats from pools, ponds to streams in Singapore. The male has a ruby red ‘nose’ and a brilliant red abdomen (above).

“A video clip of the attractive male may be viewed here:

“The female may range from a light honey brown to deep reddish brown, depending on her age (below).

“In October 2014, I was privileged to witness the mating of this dragonfly on a few occasions. The male would usually grasp the female in flight and sweep her away to a secluded spot for the intimate moment (below).

“Although their union seldom exceeds one minute, the male does not release the female immediately after. He continues to grasp the female’s ‘neck’ and they can remain in this tandem position for a while longer (below), thus depriving other males from a chance to mate with her.

“Soon after mating, the female commences her duty of dispersing her fertilised eggs near the bank of the pond or stream. As she does so, the protective male constantly hovers over her like a hawk preventing any rival males from coming close (below).

“Video clips of the ovipositing female (with conscientious male guarding) may be viewed here:”

“However, ovipositing can be a risky process, as there may be aquatic predators lurking in the shallow waters, lured by the regular dipping of the female’s abdomen upon the water surface. A potential predator would be the snakehead (Channa striata).

“A video clip of the attempted predation by this carnivorous fish on the egg-laying dragonfly may be previewed here:

“The huge splash of water crashing onto the shore was the result of the snakehead charging towards the dragonfly. Fortunately (for the dragonflies), the quick reflexes of both male and female helped them to evade the jaws of death this time.”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
Singapore
11th March 2015

Leave a Reply