Dragonflies generally come in all shades of red – from dull rusty red to bright crimsons, ruby red and even flaming orange.
But a metallic blue dragonfly? One of the rare dragonflies in South India, the ‘Lesser Blue Wing’ has been spotted by a group of butterfly and bird enthusiasts in Thenmala. Scientifically called Rhyothemis triangularis, this rare dragonfly was sighted at the Butterfly Safari Park set up by the Kerala Forest Department, next to the Thenmala Dam.The sighting was recorded on January 14 by butterfly enthusiasts C Susanth and M S Akhil in connection with their monthly butterfly and dragonfly monitoring project. This exquisitely beautiful dragonfly was found by them perching on the tip of a blade of grass.
“It is a very shy dragonfly and hence very difficult to watch and follow. It breeds in the marshes and other similar habitats. The flight season of this rare dragonfly in India and South India is not known,” said Susanth.Watching this butterfly is an experience. The deep royal blue of the wings merge into a rich purple hue at the hind and the glassy transparent wingtips glisten in the sunlight, taking on the shade of what is beneath them – be it the green of the leaf, the yellow of a flower or the brown of a stem.“Lesser Blue Wing can float on the air like a fairy.This dragonfly is seen near the marshes and ponds and has certain perching spots near the ponds. Female dragonflies can fly fast and hover over the ponds and canals for a long time,” said Susanth. Only very few sightings of the dragonfly have been recorded.“Dragonfly expert and author of ‘Dragonflies of India’, K A Subramanian, is of the opinion that this species is rare in South India.But last year Lesser Blue Wing was sighted in the wetlands of Vithura by wildlife photographer and dragonfly enthusiast T Saburaj,” said Susanth.The distribution of this dragonfly extends from Western Ghats, Sri Lanka, Eastern India and to Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Borneo towards East. Susanth and Akhil had sighted at least 50 species of dragonflies including the smaller damselflies at the Thenmala Butterfly Safari park in their recent studies.