A small, yet striking red and yellow damselfly with bright green eyes, the common pond-damsel (Ceriagrion glabrum) is a distinctive inhabitant of freshwater wetlands in Africa and Arabia. The appearance of this beautiful insect may vary with that of its habitat, but the thorax is often orange-brownish above, sometimes greenish, and dull yellow to yellowish-green below (2). The wings are clear, often with a greenish wash, and have a dark rusty brown patch with pale yellow margins near the tip. The wings are narrowly attached at the base and are held vertically when the insect is at rest (2)(3)(4). The long, slender abdomen is bright orange. The female common pond-damsel is similar to the male but is duller, browner and greener (2).
Also known as
common citril, common orange, common pond damsel, olive eyes damselfly, orange waxtail.
Species in the order Odonata start their life as aquatic larvae or nymphs, breathing through external gills and hunting opportunistically on a wide range of invertebrates(4)(6). They capture their prey by stalking it until they are sufficiently close to shoot out their labium (lower jaw), which bears hinged hooks to impale the prey and drag it back into the mouth. They pass through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’, undergoing several moults as they grow. This larval period can last anything between three months and ten years, depending upon the species. Before the final moult (emergence), the larvae stops feeding and moves to a plant, rock or other substrate and begins to breathe air. Metamorphosis then occurs in which the adult body bursts through the larval skin, the wings expand and harden, and the insect takes its first flight. After emergence, adults undergo a pre-reproductive phase known as the maturation period, when individuals normally develop their full adult colour (4).
The common pond-damsel can be found around almost any type of freshwater habitat, but occurs mostly around open stagnant waters such as pools, marshes, dams and the sluggish reaches of rivers, especially where there is an abundance of sedges, tall grasses and reeds. It is occasionally also found in open areas bordering forests, and even in thick forests (1)(2)(5).
While there is currently no information on the population size and trends of the common pond-damsel, there are not thought to be any major threats to the species across its global range (1). However, it may be threatened in parts of its range as a result of habitat loss. It is now believed to be extinct in the Mediterranean region and was last seen there in 1928, when it was spotted at the Nile Delta region of Egypt. But this region is now heavily populated, cultivated and polluted, causing many damselfly species to go extinct (7).
The common pond-damsel has not been the target of any known conservation measures, but management recommendations for damselflies including maintaining water levels and flow rates and allowing some vegetation cover (8).
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Animals with no backbone, such as insects, worms, spiders and corals.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
In insects, referring to stages of growth, whereby the hard outer layer of the body (the exoskeleton) is shed and the body becomes larger.
Part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs. In vertebrates the thorax contains the heart and the lungs.
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