Dragonflies in Madeira Islands

There are more than 5 thousand dragonfliesā€™ species around the world though in Madeira Archipelago one can only find 6, where one - Island Darter Sympetrum nigrifemur - is endemic to the Madeira, Gran Canaria and Tenerife Islands. These are the dragonflies that can be seen in Madeira:

  • Small Bluetail Ischnura pumilio
  • Blue Emperor Anax imperator
  • Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope
  • Vagrant Emperor Anax ephippiger
  • Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombei
  • Island Darter Sympetrum nigrifemur

Dragonfly Exuvia
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombei - female

Dragonfly Exuvia
Small Bluetail Ischnura pumilio

Dragonfly Exuvia
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombei - male

The dragonfly is an insect which has changed very little in the past three hundred million years and have long been known to be exquisite fliers. The largest species of the Odonata family, the Anax ā€“ Emperors, can reach 60 km/hour flying to any side, like backwards, left, right, downā€¦

Blue Emperor
Blue Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator

These curious species spend 95% of their life under water while larvae state and only 5% of it as an adult, where it lives on the land and air with the only objective to mate and reproduce. When the larvae are fully grown (around 2 years old) they come out from the water to suffer a big change. Its wings and abdomen expand and when these have hardened enough and the all body warmed sufficiently, near 40Āŗ C, it flies off as an adult. As a proof of this amazing transformation, one can find the exuvia (final larval skin) on the waterside, usually grabbed to thin vegetation.

Dragonfly Larvae
Blue Emperor LarvaeAnax imperator

Dragonfly Exuvia
Blue Emperor Exuvia Anax imperator

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