The earliest dragonflies appeared
over 300 million years ago and since that time they have developed into
many different sub species. There are more than 5000 species of dragonflies
existing in the world today.
Vanuatu Post has chosen just four
different dragonflies to show the wide variation, especially in colour,
of these interesting creatures.
Yellow striped Flutterer Rhyothemis
Phyllis - easily recognized, the yellow striped flutterer dragonfly flies
with a fluttering motion at a slow speed, gliding most of the time. Its
wings are much longer than its body. The head and body are dark brown in
colour. Its wings are clear but tinged with yellow, with black tips. Its
habitat is mostly ponds, orchid bushes and gardens.
Globe Skimmer Pantala flavescens
-this dragonfly is up to 4.5 cm long with wingspans up to 8.5 cm in length.
The predominant colour is yellowish to reddish. The wings are clear and
very broad at the base. The larvae of the Globe Skimmer, like all dragonflies,
are predatory, foraging very actively and eating indiscriminately. The
Globe Skimmer, as its name suggests, has a very wide distribution area,
between about the 40th parallels or where the temperature is above 20 C.
Fiery Skimmer Orthetrum villosovittatum
- this dragonfly is found extensively throughout Australia and neighbouring
Pacific Islands. Males have golden-brown thoraxes and red abdomens. Females
are ochre-coloured. The species inhabits boggy areas, streams and swamps.
Painted Grasshawk Neurothemis stigmatizans
- with reddish wing markings this distinctive dragonfly is widespread throughout
eastern Queensland and the south -west Pacific. Large numbers of adults
often congregate together in grassy areas near still waters. These include
mixed lowland rain forest and swamps.
Dragonflies are an integral part
of the Republic's flora and fauna. They are valuable predators that eat
mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, ants and wasps and thereby
play their part in Vanuatu's ecosystem.