Sitting on a pond today at Grand Osage Wildlife Area near Parsons, I was treated to a closeup view of green darner dragonflies laying eggs in aquatic weeds. Green darners are normally hard to approach, since they have excellent, nearly 360-degree eyesight. They can fly at speeds greater than 50 mph, and spend most of their time on the wing. They are super predators, catching and eating small and large insects while flying. And they’re beautiful besides.
Males catch and grasp females just behind the head, flying around a pond for both of them while the female simply dangles. They stop briefly, for about 15 minutes, to complete mating in a strange, heart-shaped configuration called a mating wheel. Then they fly tandem as described above in a mating chain. The male spots good egg-laying habitat, and lands the female for a few minutes, where she probes the vegetation and lays eggs in the water. Then they move to another site and repeat the process.
The naiads, or immature young darners, are voracious underwater predators and must live for four years before emerging as adults. The adults live only 4-7 more weeks. In late summer, adult darners sometimes congregate in large numbers to feed. Green darners are unusual because they actually migrate to the Gulf before dying. Then their offspring go back north in spring.
This video shows the process of oviposition, or egg-laying, by green darners.