This week’s odonate of the week is Pyrrhosoma nymphula, the large red damselfly (we call a spade a spade in the UK…). The male is the first photo (note the small, black genital claspers at the tip of the abdomen) and the female is the second photo (note the rounded tip to the abdomen with the short ovipositor projecting from the tip).
This is another species that I have worked on as a model system. There has been some work to suggest that odonates cannot see red which means that, unlike many other examples of odonate colouration, this is probably not meant to communicate anything to other odonates. Instead, researchers have proposed that the colouration may have something to do with thermoregulation. Certainly P. nymphula is among the most northerly distributed damselflies in Europe, reaching into the northern half of Norway and Finland and stretching across northern Russia. P. nymphula also comes in a variety of different colour morphs which have differing amounts of dark pigment. There is some evidence that the morphs with darker pigmentation occur in cooler, more northerly areas where energy is limited and so that pigment may enhance the absorption of heat from the sun.