New field guide to S’pore dragonflies and damselflies records the beauty of 136 species

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SINGAPORE — As the clouds part in Windsor Park, a lone pink dragonfly lifts its long body skyward, sticking its “buttocks” up.

The insect assumes this tower-like position on sunny days to avoid overheating, said ecologist Robin Ngiam, 47.

“Dragonflies are cold-blooded creatures that need the sun’s energy for key metabolic activities. However, too much sun can be harmful, so lifting their bodies in this position can help reduce surface area exposed to heat. “, he added.

Although this “pear tree” is unique to dragonflies, Ngiam said these insects are very diverse as a group behaviorally and visually.

For example, the blue dasher is a cyanide blue dragonfly that skims the surface of the pond during the day, while the spear-tailed dusk hawk, a green dragonfly active at dusk, roosts in the dark, dense undergrowth. of the forest during the day.

Mr Ngiam said: “I think for a typical Singaporean there is a misperception that insects as a whole are bad, that when you see an insect you have to kill it.

“But that’s not true, especially in a more natural environment where dragonflies can be beneficial predators of insects like mosquitoes, as well as being very attractive and colorful.”

In Windsor’s 75ha park alone, the ecologist estimates that around 50 species of dragonflies reside there.

This is more than a third of the 136 species of dragonflies and damselflies recorded in Singapore in 2022.

Mr Ngiam said: “I hope Singaporeans can see dragonfly watching as a way to experience nature and use dragonflies as a gateway to start appreciating the world of insects.”

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