Hajar Wadi damsel (Arabineura khalidi)

Synonyms: Elattoneura khalidi
GenusArabineura (1)

The Hajar Wadi damsel is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

For a desert region, southern Arabia has a remarkable range of dragonfly and damselfly species (2). First discovered as recently as 1988, the Hajar Wadi damsel was only fully described as a species in 1994, when the female was found (3). A poorly known species (1), it is rather dark (3), with a blue and black body. The female is lighter in colour.

The Hajar Wadi damsel is endemic to southeast Arabia, where it occurs in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (1) (3) (4).

This damselfly inhabits fast-running waters with aquatic vegetation, and is not usually found far from water (1) (2) (3).

Virtually nothing is known about the biology of the Hajar Wadi damsel. However, its lifestyle is likely to be similar to that of other damselfly and dragonfly species. A damselfly begins life as an aquatic larva, known as a nymph, which passes through a number of developmental stages, or ‘stadia’, and undergoes several moults as it grows. Shortly before the final moult (emergence), the nymph ceases to feed, and moves close to a site where it can emerge, such as a water plant, rock, or the shore. It then undergoes metamorphosis, changing into the adult form (5).

The newly emerged adult will spend a few days to several weeks feeding and maturing, usually in a protected, prey-rich site. During this pre-reproductive phase, the damselfly can be identified by a glassy sheen to the wings, and it is usually during this time that the full adult colour develops. Mature males may defend a territory against rival males, and competition for females can be fierce. The male will guard the female while the eggs are laid, to prevent other males mating with her. Both adults and nymphs are impressive and opportunistic predators, feeding on a variety of prey (5).

Although little is known about the Hajar Wadi damsel, it is likely to be threatened by the degradation and loss of its breeding habitat through pollution, over-irrigation and drainage (1) (4). These problems are likely to worsen as the human population in the region expands (1). Drying out of its habitat is also a serious threat, and is expected to increase in the future as a result of global climate change (1).

The conservation of the Hajar Wadi damsel will require ongoing management of good quality running waters (1), as well as measures to combat water pollution, and the protection of suitable habitats (4). Research priorities for the damselflies and dragonflies of this region include further taxonomic assessments, a complete identification key for all species, and regular monitoring of the status and habitat use of endemic, limited range species such as the Hajar Wadi damsel (4).

To find out more about dragonflies and damselflies and their conservation see:

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  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2013)
  2. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  3. Giles, G.B. (1998) An illustrated checklist of the damselflies and dragonflies of the UAE. Tribulus, 8(2): 9 - 15.
  4. Jödicke, R., Boudot, J.P., Jacquemin, G., Samraoui, B. and Schneider, W. (2004) Critical species of Odonata in northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In: Clausnitzer, V. and Jödicke, R. (Eds) Guardians of the watershed. Global status of dragonflies: critical species, threat and conservation. International Journal of Odonatology, 7: 239 - 253.
  5. O'Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.