Powder blue damsel (Arabicnemis caerulea)

Powder blue damselfly female feeding on midge
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Powder blue damsel fact file

Powder blue damsel description

GenusArabicnemis (1)

For a desert region, southern Arabia has a remarkable number of dragonflies and damselflies (2). One particularly striking damselfly, discovered in the region in 1984, is the powder blue damsel (Arabicnemis caerulea) (2) (3). As its name suggests, the powder blue damsel has a vivid blue body, with the female being slightly paler than the male (3).


Powder blue damsel biology

A damselfly nymph begins life underwater, where it breathes by means of external gills, and feeds upon just about anything that moves (5). Following a period lasting anywhere from 30 days to several years (depending on the species), the nymph climbs out of the water onto an exposed rock or plant, and begins to breathe air in preparation for its short adult life (5) (6). Discarding its larval skin, the immature damselfly allows its newly developed wings to harden before flying away to feed and eventually reproduce (5). Like the nymphs, adult damselflies are generalist, opportunistic hunters, but mainly feed on flying insects (5) (6).


Powder blue damsel range

The powder blue damsel is one of the few Odonata species found only in southern Arabia. It has been recorded in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen (1) (4).


Powder blue damsel habitat

The slow-flowing, vegetated sections of irrigation ditches, oases and ephemeral watercourses (1).


Powder blue damsel status

The powder blue damsel is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Powder blue damsel threats

There is no information on the status of the blue powder damsel population but its breeding habitat is thought to be being degraded through pollution and over-harvesting of water. In addition, there is concern that a reduction in rainfall, associated with global climate change, may reduce the total available habitat in the future (1).


Powder blue damsel conservation

The priority for the conservation of the blue powder damsel and other dragonfly and damselfly species in southern Arabia is to maintain suitable habitat in the form of clean, running water systems (1) (5).

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



Stage of insect development, similar in appearance to the adult but sexually immature and without wings. The adult form is reached via a series of moults and the wings develop externally as the nymph grows.
Order of insects encompassing dragonflies and damselflies.


  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2013)
  2. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
  3. Giles, G.B. (1998) An Illustrated Checklist of the Damselflies and Dragonflies of the UAE. TRIBULUS, 8(2): 9 - 15.
  4. Jödicke, R., Boudot, J.P., Jacquemin, G., Samraoui, B. and Schneider, W. (2004) Critical species of Odonata in northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In: Clausnitzer, V. and Jödicke, R. (Eds) Guardians of the watershed. Global status of dragonflies: critical species, threat and conservation. International Journal of Odonatology, 7: 239 - 253.
  5. Moore, N.W. (1997) Dragonflies: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Odonata Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  6. O'Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Powder blue damselfly female feeding on midge  
Powder blue damselfly female feeding on midge

© Robert W. Reimer

Robert W. Reimer
c/o United Arab Emirates University - UGRU
P.O. Box 17172
Al Ain
United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 (50) 663-0764


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