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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dragonflies of Malaysia - Crimson Dropwing (Trithemis Aurora)

To begin with let’s start off with some basic information on what is a dragonfly
A dragonfly is an insect, have six legs, sees the world through large multifaceted eyes, comes with two pairs of strong transparent wings, all housed in an elongated body (....we all know that, of course!). It belongs to the order Odonata, suborder Epiprocta....infraorder Anisoptera.....and so forth. They are usually sighted near ponds, lakes and wetlands because their nymphs are aquatic, to put it in less entomological terms, dragonfly babies are born and before developing wings, spend their lives in water.

More interesting facts about dragonflies are, even with six legs they are incapable of walking. Dragonflies are predators that devour other small insects like mosquitoes, flies and ants. On a hot sunny day dragonflies would point its tail end towards the sun, minimizing its body surface exposure to the sun to keep itself cool. A dragonfly can fly in multi directions, upward, downward, forward, back, and side to side. In most dragonfly species the males are brightly colored and more attractive then the females

Most of the dragonfly’s life are spent as a nymph, it has been documented that some species are nymphs for a few years before it metamorphosed into a flying dragonfly only for a few months.
Photo of a male Crimson Dropwing is shown above. It is the only known dragonfly species in Peninsular Malaysia to have this dark rosy pink color. The female species has a dull brownish yellow color with a tinge of pink patches in some parts of the body. I observe males are more common then females.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Assassin bug

Based on Scientific classification, Assassin bugs are members of the family Reduviidae in the true bug order Hemiptera

Living up to its common name of Assassin Bug, it is a predatory insect that has long-legs, normally exhibiting dark sinister colors, black, brownish or reddish complete with beady eyes and extended proboscis or some calls it rostrum, not a pleasant sight when magnified.

It can fly as witnessed by the author with very rapid wing movements albeit slowly.
Assassin bugs catches prey with a death grip, using its foreleg that in some species have sharp barbs that makes it difficult to escape, next the proboscis are then used to penetrate the prey injecting a potent digestive juice into the prey, paralyzing and killing the prey mercifully in a matter of seconds. The liquefied muscles and tissues of the prey are then sucked up much like us drinking water using a straw, a scenario befitting any horror movie.

But I think this is an efficient method of feeding where food is externally digested, avoiding the need for chewing and other necessities that goes with it. At the same time, I can imagine an accidental bite from them would be extremely painful, severely uncomfortable at the very least and requiring long healing time.

Found throughout the world, they are considered beneficial for insect pest control as generally their preferred food are insect that we considered as pest, like cockroaches, flies and termites.
Supposedly carnivorous but the specimen shown (Cosmolestes picticeps) is one species reported in Malaysia to also feed on nectar of flowers, this is of course not verifiable. There are also some other species reported that feeds on blood of mammals.