Odonata is one of the most conspicuous insect groups which allure attention with their beautiful colours and inconceivable flight skill. When observed closer, their life history is more enticing.

They have a life cycle which circulates between water and air. Both aquatic nymphs and flying adults are aggressive predators in almost all areas in the world except in the sea. Odonates have an incomplete metamorphosis. Aquatic nymphs develop from eggs which are laid by the females in the water. Some species lay their eggs in plant tissue which inhabit closer to water (endophytic species) and some drop their eggs freely into water (exophytic species).

Odonates survive in a wide range of aquatic water bodies both lotic and lentic. Some species tolerate the brackish water although the majority associate with fresh water. Rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, pools, small ponds, marshes, reservoirs and paddy fields are the main habitats, thus often they are addressed as the ‘guardians of the watersheds’(Bedjaničet al., 2007). Odonates play an important role in surface water bodies as predators; especially in functioning of food chains and foods pyramids.

While mating, female odonates are clenched by the males from the females’ head or prothorax and fly in so-called as tandem position. Then females bend their abdomen and join genitalia pore with the male’s secondary genitalia pore in the base of the abdomen, forming a heart-shaped figure which is one of the most artistic events in nature known as the copula or wheel position.

In our Mahoora campsites in Yala, Udawalawe and Wilpattu, these biodiversity-wise important insects can be seen often. This was photographed at Mahoora Wilpattu campsite in 15/02/2016.

Story and photography by Dhanula Jayasinghe

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