Miss Scarlet is a very pretty dragonfly

During a recent visit to the Millstone Farmstall at Oude Molen Eco Village, I noticed this little dragonfly in the lavender bushes. After zipping back and forth for a while, it alighted on a lavender spike with its pretty purple flowers, and posed most gracefully for me.

Dragonfly in the lavender bushes

I thought it was very pretty, don’t you?

Of course, then I became curious about what species of dragonfly it was, so I consulted the internet.

The ever-helpful Wikipedia explained that dragonflies have

“large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Even though dragonflies possess 6 legs like any other insect, they are not capable of walking.

Dragonflies are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, and butterflies. They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic.”

They eat mosquitoes? Ahh! Brilliant! In that case, we definitely want more dragonflies in our garden, because – since the fish in our water feature died – we have suffered an invasion of sleep-disturbing mozzies.

I then came across a most informative website by a South African gentleman, Warwick, which listed – with numerous exquisite, crystal-clear, zoomed-in photographs – about 224 species of dragonfly and damselfly recorded in Southern Africa.

224 species?!

Wow.

I often glimpse dragonflies skimming over the pool or hovering near flowers in my garden, but I had no idea there were that many species! Not that I’ve really managed to take a closer look at them, as they do tend to be rather skittish, and rarely sit still long enough for me to focus the camera. Clearly, I need to pay closer attention to them.

Anyhow, I sent my photo to Warwick and asked him whether he could perhaps identify the species. Much to my amazement, he could. He explained that it is a female Little Scarlet (Crocothemis sanguinolenta). The females of this species apparently have a uniform ochre colouring and a more squat shape than the bright red males (see picture on his website).

This one is a female Little Scarlet

Well, hello there, Miss Scarlet! You sure are looking pretty today. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Miss Scarlet is a very pretty dragonfly

  1. Reggie, I’m impressed with how you’ve ‘mounted’ your photos. Very nice. It’s also amazing how you’ve captured such a fast moving insect in flight.

    I’ve always been a little wary of dragonflies. Something about them creeps me out a little which is odd as very few things in nature provoke this response in me. It is wonderful that they eat mosquitoes though 🙂 I can certainly appreciate that.

    • I found that funny little ‘border’ option of ‘sticky-tape in the corners’ in the image processing software. I thought it was quite unusual.

      If you read the Wikipedia article on dragonflies, you will see that you are not alone on that score of being creeped out by these little flying insects (have a look at the Dragonflies in cultures section) – intriguing, isn’t it?!

  2. Reggie, dragonflies are very popular here as a decorative motif. For example, one of my friends has a large metal sculpture of a dragonfly attached to her house, while another uses the image of a red one for his business logo.

    Thank you for the link to the article. How very interesting! I didn’t realize so many cultures felt the same way about them that I did.

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