The Dragonflies fly!

It is not uncommon for a dragonfly to be trapped in our home. Recently, a relatively large dragonfly flew into our living room and set the house in pandemonium! Moreover, we live on the tenth floor which reflects on how high the dragonfly can fly. It was trying to escape and it was interesting to observe its flight pattern while trying to shun it. It flew (with a slight buzzing sound) forwards and backwards suddenly and sometimes it just hung in midair. Ignoring the innate fear of large insects, it was actually quite fascinating! Interestingly enough, the method dragonflies employ for flight has been applied to various fields such as “robotics, aviation, and the military” (Beale, 2003). I found out that the method employed by these highly-skilled fliers is referred to as “active motion camouflage” which creates an illusion that they are not moving when they actually are (Beale, 2003).

The presence of dragonflies in an urban area is analogous to the presence of lichens in forests. While the latter is very sensitive to air pollution and thus can be used as an indicator for air pollution levels (Nash et. Al), dragonflies are indicators of water pollution. Their presence indicates relatively unpolluted water bodies and they play a key role in the freshwater ecosystem (“NParks”).  Dragonflies generally eat small insects, including mosquitoes! And frogs in the pond ecosystem feed in these dragonflies (see Aside and Youtube video Dragonfly and Frog!)

It came as a surprise to discover that the dragonfly population in Singapore is indeed flourishing and increasing! According to a study done by NParks over a two-year period (2008-2010), the total number of dragonfly species have reached over 120 (as compared to 117 in 2008 (Norma et. Al, 2008)) ! This is nearly as large as the number of species in the whole of Europe, which only has 130 species (Wasscher, 2003)!!

So the next time you see the humble dragonfly, remember it reflects on how the freshwater pond community is thriving!

Aside:  Above are some pictures of the lagoon area in my condominium(I meant to put them below but i can’t seem to format it right). It used to be teeming with dragonflies and frogs everyday at around 1800. It was a freshwater ecosystem right at our doorstep, literally! Unfortunately, due to the high cost of maintaining the freshwater fish pond (also because many children including myself took the liberty to go pond fishing ;)), the fishes were removed and the water chlorinated about a year ago. Consequently, the dragonflies and frogs disappeared!

References

Beale, Bob. “Putting the Buzz in Navigation.” Scientist 17.19 (2003): 28. Web. 14 Apr 2010. <http://www.the-scientist.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/article/display/14150/>.

Norma-Rashid, Y., L.F.Cheong, H.K.Lua & D.H. Murphy, 2008. The Dragonflies (Odonata) of Singapore: Current Status Records and Collections of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Singapore. 21 pp. Uploaded 7 Nov. 2008.   <http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg/raffles_museum_pub/Dragonfly_of_Singapore.pdf>

Nash, Thomas, and Unione italiana. Lichen Biology. 3rd ed. United Kingdom: Cambridge Univ Pr, 1996. 240-41. Print.

“NParks’ Dragonfly Project Unveils One Third of Total Species Existing in Singapore Sighted at Urban Parks and Gardens.” National Parks. Singapore Government, 30 03 2010. Web. 14 Apr 2010. <http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_news&task=view&id=188&Itemid=50>.

Wasscher, MT. “The European dragonflies: Notes on the checklist and on species diversity .” CSA Illumina 29.1 (2000): 31-43. Web. 14 Apr 2010. <http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=4699809&q=dragonfly+number+europe&uid=1015501&setcookie=yes>.

6 thoughts on “The Dragonflies fly!

  1. Hi, can you identify the dragonfly trapped in your home? Do you have a photo of it?

    Last year, it was reported to me that a dragonfly flew to the 26th floor of a high-rise residential building in Tiong Bahru. I managed to see the specimen and confirmed that it was the very rare Hemicordulia tenera.

  2. Hi, nope it flew away! But it sure was huge! wow flying to the 26th floor is really quite high. It did not manage to escape?

  3. well..its quite common in bukit batok(the place were i live). especially after the rain.usually at 7.30p.m.that was the time when i found the gynacantha subinterrupta !do try searching:D

  4. one of the water bugs to another. one of our conoly is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she is going? Up, up, up it slowly went .Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return That’s funny! said one water bug to another. Wasn’t she happy here? asked a second Where do you suppose she went? wondered a third.No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the conoly, gathered its friends together. I have an idea . The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why. We promise , they said solemnly.One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up, he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broke through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly!!Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.The dragonfly remembered the promise: the next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why. Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water I can’t return! he said in dismay. At least, I tried. But I can’t keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they’ll understand what has happened to me, and where I went. And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air .Thank you God, for the story of the water bugs and the dragonflies.Please remember________who left the pond we live in and remember me STICKNEY, D. (1997). Water Bugs and Dragonflies. Explaining Death To Young Children. The Pilgrim Press.

  5. Erm…there’s a dragonfly in my home right now and it made me scream “WTH” when it first flew in with its wings hitting the walls.Now its resting on my fan and I’m abit afraid of it so I didn’t touch the fan.i don’t dare to go near it too…A bit of help?And also,there’s no water bodies around our home so why is there a dragonfly here?

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