Odonata is the order of insects that includes damselflies and dragonflies. Odonata, which as adults live only one to two months, indulge in perhaps the most conspicuous copulation of any insect. September is the time when a casual walk through fields or mashes reveals dozens of them mating, always in their characteristic wheel formation. Last year’s posting on this topic, sex in the park, only showed dragonflies. Below are examples of both dragonfly mating and damselfly mating.
Saffron-winged meadowhawks are dragonflies. The male (red, on top) has grasped the female by the back of her head. Characteristic of dragonflies, she holds onto his abdomen and swings her abdomen up to receive sperm.
Spotted spreadwings are damselflies. The male (blueish, on top) has grabbed the female by the neck. Characteristic of damselflies, she has grabbed her own abdomen when she swung her abdomen up to him to receive sperm. This version of the wheel position looks rather like a heart.