|Pseudostigmatidae is a family of
tropical damselflies, known as helicopter damselflies, giant damselflies
or Forest Giants. The family includes the largest of all damselfly species.
They specialize in preying on web-building spiders, and breed in phytotelmata,
the small bodies of water held by plants such as bromeliads.
The species traditionally placed
in Pseudostigmatidae are all Neotropical. Two range as far as northeastern
Mexico: Mecistogaster ornata occurs in Tamaulipas and Pseudostigma aberrans
in both Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. In 2006, molecular phylogenetic analysis
confirmed that the African damselfly Coryphagrion grandis, previously often
classified within Megapodagrionidae or in a monotypic family Coryphagrionidae,
belonged within family Pseudostigmatidae, close to genus Mecistogaster,
as was proposed already ten years before. This finding suggests that the
family dates back to before the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana.
Adults of the family are exceptionally
large for damselflies, with wingspans as high as 190 mm reported for Megaloprepus
and body length up to 130 mm for Pseudostigma aberrans. The pterostigma
- a thickened, pigmented cell found on the leading edge of the wing in
other odonates - is either missing or else modified into a pseudostigma
of several cells. In some species the pseudostigma is a large colored spot
covering most of the tip of the wing.
Mecistogaster is a genus of large
Neotropical damselflies in the family Pseudostigmatidae. It contains 11
Mecistogaster ornata (Rambur, 1842)
ranges in Middle America from Mexico, Guatemala to Panama, and South America.
It is a very large damselfly, with body length 86-87 mm. Adults fly in
understory of rainforest where they apparently glean spiders and wrapped
spider-preys from webs. Larvae, described by Ramirez, breed in water-filled
holes of trees. Hedstrom and Sahlen found this species was missing entirely
from non-seasonal, tropical wet lowland forest and non-seasonal, tropical
moist forest at mid elevation in Costa Rica, while it was active year round
in seasonal, tropical dry lowland forest and tropical semi-dry forest,
as well as in seasonal, tropical moist evergreen forest and tropical montane
moist forest, both at mid-elevation.
- Abdomen length
- Large with
- Thorax dark
with yellow stripes.
- Wing tips yellow
on upperside, becoming dark on underside with age.
- Similar to
- Abdomen length
77 mm, hindwing length 54 mm.
The species is native to Argentina;
Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; French Guiana; Mexico; Panama; Peru;
Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of. This
species is known from over 50 locations (many being within protected areas)
but there is no data available on population sizes. The species is
accessed by IUCN Red List as Least Concern.
Accepted subspecies include:
ornata acutipennis (Selys, 1886)
ornata ornata (Rambur, 1842)