Hi all, we were out with our son, daughter in law, and 6 year old grandson today. Our Grandson loves catching insects, crickets, grasshoppers etc. After studying them in his proper trap, he releases them again. Whilst out, we saw various butterflies, and a couple of dragonflies. Now, to ask the question. Have any of you observed this behaviour? We watched a female Emperor ovipositing in a small pond. Her mate was patrolling above, and caught a small butterfly. Still in flight, the wings dropped off, and he then found the female, who flew up and took the food from him. She landed on a weed in the water, and sat eating. This all took place over some 20 minutes or so, much to the delight of all watching, especially our Grandson, who was the quietest I have known him to be for such a long time. No decent pics of this action, despite many attempts, sorry. Pics below of some other sightings. Hope you like them.
Gatekeeper (poor quality, sorry)
Broad bodied chaser (male)
Can't help you with your question Stich but that last photo is a stunner
Thanks for the kind comment Alan, appreciated.
Have to agree with Alan that the last pictures is a stunner. Can't help you with your question either. It's great when the young ones take such an interest isn't it.
StichWe watched a female Emperor ovipositing in a small pond. Her mate was patrolling above, and caught a small butterfly. Still in flight, the wings dropped off, and he then found the female, who flew up and took the food from him. She landed on a weed in the water, and sat eating.
I have never heard of anything like this before, but will check some literature and see if I can find any reference to anything similar.
I would suspect that this was more likely to be theft of food rather than a deliberate feeding of the female by the male.
Thanks Roy. The male deffo was looking for the female before shec nabbed the food, so I assumed she was meant to take it. Be interested in what you manage to find on your research. Appreciated.
I haven't been able to find any reference to any similar behaviour in any odonata at the moment - but I'll keep looking!
Very interesting stuff! Courtship feeding is known to occur in some insects, I think?
And I took my future wife out for a "chinese" on our first date.lol.
StichThe male deffo was looking for the female before shec nabbed the food, so I assumed she was meant to take it.
Male dragonflies are always looking for females - it's pretty much their only goal in life!
aikiCourtship feeding is known to occur in some insects, I think?
Yes, some crickets and fruit flies I believe, and probably others.
Unless there have been any recent publications, courtship in dragonfly species only seems to have been described for a few species of Libellulid dragonfly (Chasers, Skimmers, Darters etc), and seems to be very brief, consisting of little more than a male approaching a female, indicating his desire to mate, and perhaps showing off potential ovipositing sites within his territory. The female then indicates receptiveness, or leaves!
Similar brief courtship displays have also been described for a number of damselfly species, including the demoiselles found in the UK.
In most cases males of both dragonflies and damselflies simply try and grab females, which may indicate that they are not receptive for mating by bending their abdomen either up or down. If a male does manage to 'grab' a female, he will then try and coax her to mate by bending his abdomen forward - although if the female is not receptive mating will not occur because she also needs to bend her abdomen forward if the mating wheel is to be formed.
What happened after, or while, the female was eating?
Thanks for the info Roy, appreciated. When the female was given, (stole) the butterfly, she sat eating it on a leaf in the pond. The male continued patrolling, and attempting to catch other butterflies, unsuccessfully. He didn't venture far from the pond, so the prey got away. I was surprised at this, cos they, as you know, are very fast. It almost seemed he didn't want to let her out of his sight. I would have stayed longer. but our Grandson wanted to go to the playground. Cheers, Steve.