Kenya dancing-jewel (Platycypha amboniensis)

Also known as: montane dancing-jewel
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderOdonata
FamilyChlorocyphidae
GenusPlatycypha (1)

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

This rare damselfly has slightly expanded orange legs and a mostly sky-blue abdomen, as well as the large, bulbous eyes, and long, translucent wings characteristic of dragonflies and damselflies.

Endemic to the Aberdare Mountains and Mount Kenya in central Kenya (1).

Found along montane forest streams, between 1,600 and 2,000 m above sea level (1).

Virtually nothing is known of the Kenya dancing-jewel’s reproductive biology, life history patterns or feeding behaviour. Nevertheless, there are general biological characteristics of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) that are likely to apply. Odonata species start their life as aquatic larvae or nymphs, passing through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’, undergoing several moults as they grow. This larval period can last anything between three months and ten years, depending upon the species. Before the final moult (emergence), metamorphosis occurs in which the larvae transform into the adult form. After emergence, adults undergo a pre-reproductive phase known as the maturation period, and this is when individuals normally develop their full adult colour. Odonata usually feed on flying insects and are generalised, opportunistic feeders, often congregating around abundant prey sources such as swarms of termites or near beehives (2).

There is often fierce competition between males for access to reproductive females, and females typically begin to lay eggs in water immediately after copulation, often guarded by their mate. However, females of some species can store live sperm in their body for a number of days (2).

Classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, this tiny animal is becoming increasingly threatened by extensive habitat loss and degradation within its range. Forest has largely been cleared between the altitudes at which the species occurs, leaving only fragmented and small secondary forest pockets. Despite the remaining forests being protected as forest reserves, illegal logging, charcoal burning and clear-cutting continue, and urgent conservation measures are desperately needed (1).

There are currently no known conservation measures targeting this species.

Authenticated (24/07/2006) by Dr. Viola Clausnitzer, Chair, IUCN/SSC Odonata Specialist Group.

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.