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MICROSTIGMA ANOMALUM DAMSELFLY

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Classification

Phylum Arthropoda

Class Insecta

SubclassPterygota

InfraclassPalaeoptera

Order Odonata

Suborder Zygoptera

Family Pseudostigmatidae

Genus Microstigma

Species M. Anomalum

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Introduction of damselfly & dragonfly watching


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MICROSTIGMA ANOMALUM

HELICOPTER DAMSELFLY

Microstigma is a species of damselflies belonging to the family Pseudostigmatidae.

One particularly interesting family that is found only in the Neotropics, from Mexico southward, is the Helicopter Damselfly family (Pseudostigmatidae). These are very large damsels, with drab bodies but a prominent spot of color on the wing tips. They are found even in the darkest rainforests, and seem almost ghostly as they move slowly in an unusual whirring flight that does indeed resemble that of a helicopter.

Morphologically the family is noted for having a multi-celled pterostigma, and behaviorally for their unusual prey specialization: they pluck spiders from webs. Also interesting is their life history: the helicopter damselflies spend their larval life in water in tree holes and in the water tanks formed by bromeliads.

Microstigma (3 species) is found throughout the Amazon basin, and only there. A similar genus, Megaloprepus, has a prominent, dark metallic blue band near the wing apex, sometimes with a whitish area on one or both sides of the blue band.

Odonata, the insect order that is comprised of Damselflies (Zygoptera) and Dragonflies (Epiprocta), is one of the most ancient winged insect groups (~300 MYA). Odonata is comprised of roughly 5,500 species, and has a worldwide distribution. Odonates are among the most acrobatic flyers in the world. Using four wings capable of moving independently, they are equally adept at snatching either a mate or prey out of the air.

The most spectacular of all odonates are the Helicopter damselflies (Zygoptera: Pseudostigmatidae ) . This group is composed of 6 genera and 19 species. Nearly all species of pseudostigmatids inhabit Neotropical rainforests, with one species endemic to east Africa (Coryphagrion grandis). The group is famous for its gigantism and includes the largest extant odonate, Megaloprepus caerulatus, with a wingspan of over 190mm . The evolution of damselfly gigantism has been examined phylogenetically and it is hypothesized to have a single origin attributed only to Helicopter damselflies


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