Monday, February 14, 2011

I Heart Damselflies

Are copulating damselflies the source of the stylized heart shape () that we’re all familiar with and drew on Valentine’s Day cards in grade school? Let’s see what we can do with this image of copulating Skimming Bluets (Enallagma geminatum) and you be the judge...

Well, what more proof do you need! This isn’t my idea. I recall someone speculating about it years ago (sorry, I don’t remember who that was) and a sketch depicting this notion was used on a cover of Argia, the news journal of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, back in 1997. You can view that issue here.

Copulating damselflies don’t always form such a nice heart shape—it’s often skewed like on the cover of that issue of Argia, but there is usually at least a suggestion of it. Copulating dragonflies never form a heart—not that I’ve seen anyway, and that probably has to do with the difference in where the male holds onto the female (the back of the head on dragonflies, near the front of the thorax on damselflies), and differences in body proportions may have something to do with it too.

I don’t known if copulating damselflies are truly the source of the heart shape or not and I’m sure that no one knows for certain anymore, but it’s fun to think about. And of course, Valentine’s Day is a natural time to think about it. (Wikipedia has a few suggestions about the origin of the heart shape, none of which involve damselflies.)

I have a suggestion. From now on whenever you see a “I something” sticker, mentally replace the heart with “copulating damselflies”. I copulating damselflies NY or I copulating damselflies my rat terrier is so much more entertaining!


  1. Nice thoughts on this Valentine's Day!

  2. Saw this and thought of you:

  3. That is so neat! ♥ :D

    Thank you for commenting in my blog the other day. I haven't been checking like I should and just saw your comment today. My children and I really appreciate the information you shared about the type of dragonflies that were in our pictures!

  4. I copulating damselflies your blog! ♥