With a fully sunny day, not just an interlude, I tromped off down to what I regard as the main bit of river flowing through Jalón, in the hope of finding more Spanish dragonflies. Pool #1 produced a cruising Emperor Dragonfly/Blue Emperor (Anax imperator) but nothing else. The river by the ford produced even less: nothing, nada, nichts, pas un chat [as they say in France for “not a sausage”]. Most surprisingly, to me, anyway, considering this is just coming out of winter, was a complete lack of water in what I normally regard as fairly reliable pools. In one of these last year, I had found my first Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi). Now all was dry.
I crossed the river to the north side where there was some reeded habitat that looked good, perhaps, for damselflies to lurk. This is where I’d found a Willow Emerald (Lestes viridis) last year. Now, life appeared scarce. There was another Emperor Dragonfly cruising up and down the main body of water but, at first, that’s all I could see. Then Francine spotted a movement in the grass which turned out to be a Blue-tailed Damselfly. Not exactly an exciting haul and, even worse, nobody was posing for pictures. I was disappointed considering the reported activity elsewhere in Spain.
There was some consolation. Another movement that Francine managed to spot in one of the plants beside the water proved to be a mantis It wasn’t posing as well as it might but at least I managed to get one half-way decent photograph of it before it hid deeper in the herbage. There are several mantids that might’ve been possible so, given my very basic Chinery guide [Insects of Britain and western Europe], I wasn’t hopeful of anything concrete. However, as luck would have it this particular example had a diagnostic feature in the form of a tall crest on its head; this intriguing looking critter was a Conehead Mantis (Empusa pennata).
Praying Mantises are renowned – or is that notorious? – for the female’s habit of devouring her mate after, or even during copulation. She starts by eating the male’s head but mating continues, I guess his brains really are elsewhere. 😀 There’s a video here, showing this somewhat macabre occurrence,
Fortunately for the male Conehead Mantis, the female of the species apparently never devours her mate. Much more civilized behaviour. Or perhaps she just can’t get her jaws around his head with that crest in the way. [Just kidding.]