The Span of Life

Going through some of my older photos, preparing them for Flickr, I came across this image.
At the top of the screen, you have a pair of breeding Common Green Darners (Anax junius.) The female is ovipositing, placing eggs in the water beneath the pads. Darners typically stay on the wing almost continuously, making them difficult to photograph. But now they were an achievable target and I’d been following them around, trying to get close enough for a photo.
I didn’t notice the Six-spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton) feeding on a second male darner until I looked at the photo on the computer. I’m still trying to think of a scenario where a spider would’ve been able to catch a darner. That’s not a terribly large spider and darners are pretty robust. It had to have been an ambush situation where the darner landed for some reason and the spider took him by surprise.
I thought the breeding pair laying eggs and the other male dead and being consumed, neatly encapsulated the life cycle of the darners.
As soon as I saw the image, I thought of the only poem I’ve ever memorized, The Span of Life by Robert Frost. This poem is the very epitome of succinctness.

The old dog barks backwards without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

And to pull this post around to a proper ending, here are the remains of the darner once the spider had completed his meal. That’s assuming it’s the same dragonfly (it was in the same spot if I remember correctly) but it looks like something other than the spider had been munching on it.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>