Lookin' for Love on the Seguin Damselfly Style

This past July while paddling on the Seguin River just below the Cascade Street Dam photographing the last stand of the power plant, I came across an interesting flurry of activity. The good news was I had a camera with me, the bad news was that my longer lens was at home. Still, I was able to capture a little bit of ‘risky business’ on the Seguin.

Last Days of the Power Plant (2016/07)

It was about 7:30 in the evening and in the calmer section of the river a 'buzz' of activity, about 10 metres from where I was paddling, caught my attention. Getting closer wasn't really an option, it would have been like crashing a party. So, I hung back and caught what pictures I could. After getting home and taking a quick look at the images, I realized that this was a swarm of either dragonflies or damselflies. Looking a little bit closer, and after doing a little bit of online research, I realized that these were damselflies, most likely Orange Bluets, and they were there to 'hook up'.

"Hi, do you come here often?"

It turns out that the Seguin River is a very popular singles bar for these damselflies, a great location to meet and ‘connect’. And they certainly were connecting, although there was no evidence that it had progressed to the stage of public sex.

It seems that damselflies, who only live for about three weeks, spend a considerable part of their short lives looking for sex, and having sex. An article in the Ottawa Citizen sheds a little bit of light on these delicate creatures and their prodigious ‘appetites’.

"Come fly away with me."

The activity that I captured is the first stage of the mating process. The male damselfly has an appendage, called a cercus, on his terminal abdomen segment that he uses to ‘hook’ onto the female’s thorax. The female it seems has the option to accept this ‘connection’ or not. Apparently the shape of the male’s cercus matters when it comes to getting a positive response. (More information on damselfly mating is available through this link.) The next stage of the mating process involves the male moving sperm to his abdomen and the female curling her abdomen forward to collect the sperm from the male. This explains the curled up position you often see damselflies and dragonflies assuming. After the transfer of the sperm the female damselfly flies off and lays the eggs under water. (More information is provided in the linked articles.)

"You're a Cancer? So am I."

I was told that once the new power plant is complete there will be easy access to this lower portion of the Seguin River for those who want to canoe or kayak. In the middle of the summer when water flow is a trickle it's a great place to spend a couple of hours of relaxed paddling and drifting with the current (don't forget your life vests). It's not on the list of Amazing Places, but it's a pretty amazing place. Head a little further downstream, but not too far, and check out the Bowes Treet Bridge, the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail foot bridge, and the CP trestle all heading off at different angles. Show up in the early evening and you may have a chance to catch a little action going down at the 'Singles Bar on the Seguin'.

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