Subject: Dobsonflies Doing the Deed!
Location: Farmington, NY
August 21, 2013 11:17 am
Hi Bugman! I made a trip to Farmington, NY last month and witnessed the mating of two Dobsonflies. The male was on the front porch screen for a couple of hours, just hanging out and looking lonely. Low and behold, the ”lady of his dreams” arrived! He went right over to her, and they did a little dance for a minute – you know, getting to know each other. He eventually got down to business and they mated for about another minute. I watched the whole ritual and took lots of pictures. I’ve tried to upload 3 of them but it keeps hanging, so here is one. Let me know if you would like more. Thanks for all of your work on the site!
Signature: Dobsonfly Voyeur
Dear Dobsonfly Voyeur,
We would love to see more of your mating Dobsonfly photos. Just responding to this email should allow you to attach a few. We are especially interested in photos that document the actual mating activity. It is fascinating that the male arrived first. In most insects, the males are attracted to the pheromones released by the female.
Daniel – Great to hear back and thanks for the post on What’s That Bug! I will attempt to attach 13 pictures to this. In case the attachments get lost in cyberspace, you can view the pics on my Picasa site. You are free to use these in any manner (download/post/share, etc). You can also post the link for visitors of your excellent web site. All of these were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S4, so the quality is good – but they are not high-quality macro lens shots. Perhaps my next toy will be a nice digital SLR for events like this. Thanks again, and glad that you are interested!
Hi again Tim,
Wow. We have had a call out for quite some time for photos of mating Dobsonflies and we are thrilled to get your documentation. It will take us a bit of time to format all the images, adjust the image quality and post them, but we plan to make this a featured posting. The actual mating was quite fast and we are very curious about the actual biological significance of the male’s overly developed mandibles. Perhaps some knowledgeable expert will eventually write in with more details.
We are especially curious why the actual mating photos are blurrier than the others. Was the activity especially frenzied with lots of wing flapping, or were you just a bit nervous behind the camera? Any mating details would be greatly appreciated.
Daniel – the overall blurriness of those images was due to the fluttering of both the subjects in front of and behind the lens! The dobsonflies were much more active during their “session,” and I also admit that I was excited due to your challenge in 2011 for dobsonfly mating pics relating to the male’s mandibles. I’ve been an avid fan of WTB for quite some time – at least since 2002 when I successfully identified an American Pelecinid on there – so I remembered the “challenge” from back then. I do apologize for the overall blur factor on those important pics, but hopefully you can make use of them and maybe clear them up a bit. It was a fascinating evening and I’m glad that I can help the cause! If I can help in any other way, just let me know.
You must have been one of our original ten readers. We are happy you have stayed with us through the years. Your photos are an excellent documentation, but there are still so many questions unanswered. We can’t help but wonder: Why was he poking under her wings with his mandibles? Was that a required mating technique? Why did she arrive at the light after him? Was she attracted to his pheromones? Is this a reversal of what is typical in most other insects’ mating rituals? Were they both just attracted to the light? Perhaps we will eventually learn the answers to some of these questions.