The Giant Helicopter Damselfly of the Amazon

giant helicopter damselflyCalling their flight graceful would be inaccurate, but slowly bobbing through the humid understory, there was something transfixing about their movement, their body bouncing out-of-sync with their brightly coloured wing tips as they travelled between the leaves they would clumsily cling to. We would come across these charming insects throughout the forest and always stop to observe for just a moment, it was difficult not to do so.

This enormous damselfly, Mecistogaster linearis, belongs to the Pseudostigmatidae family known as the helicopter damselflies, the largest of all damselflies, and restricted to the Neotropics. They specialise in hunting web-building spiders by skillfully plucking them from their webs, or occasionally taking insects which have been previously wrapped in silk by the spider. They locate webs lit by the sunlight shining through gaps in the canopy and will return to the same web several times to hunt spiders which have taken over the web from the previous victim. They are the only Odonata that have a specialised hunting strategy.

Interestingly, this family of damselflies exhibit a unique behaviour whereby they lay their eggs in water-filled bromeliads or tree hollows, in which the larvae then mature.

Click here to see some more photos from Peru and the Amazon.

About these ads

One response to “The Giant Helicopter Damselfly of the Amazon

  1. Pingback: Lawrence Ball: Dragonflies of the Amazon - Discover Conservation·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s