When damselflies mate, the male grasps the female by the front end of her thorax (the pronotum); but only if she is willing! Accepting his advance is not compulsory according to Chandler and Cham (2013) in their excellent book: Dragonfly. Together they form a heart-shaped tandem that can last for up to an hour. The male has two sets of genitalia, and has already moved sperm from the main set – at the back of the abdomen – to the secondary genitalia, near the front. He must be confident about finding a mate! The female then bends her abdomen round so that the tip comes in contact with the sperm stored in the accessory genitalia, below segments 2 and 3 on the male; as shown in this photograph of Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) mating. Once her eggs have been fertilized in this way, the pair fly off together – with the male still grasping her by the back – and she lays her eggs on water. Team work!
I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.