Powder blue damsel (Arabicnemis caerulea)
The powder blue damsel is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
For a desert region, southern Arabia has a remarkable number of dragonflies and damselflies (2). One particularly striking damselfly, discovered in the region in 1984, is the powder blue damsel (Arabicnemis caerulea) (2) (3). As its name suggests, the powder blue damsel has a vivid blue body, with the female being slightly paler than the male (3).
The powder blue damsel is one of the few Odonata species found only in southern Arabia. It has been recorded in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen (1) (4).
The slow-flowing, vegetated sections of irrigation ditches, oases and ephemeral watercourses (1).
A damselfly nymph begins life underwater, where it breathes by means of external gills, and feeds upon just about anything that moves (5). Following a period lasting anywhere from 30 days to several years (depending on the species), the nymph climbs out of the water onto an exposed rock or plant, and begins to breathe air in preparation for its short adult life (5) (6). Discarding its larval skin, the immature damselfly allows its newly developed wings to harden before flying away to feed and eventually reproduce (5). Like the nymphs, adult damselflies are generalist, opportunistic hunters, but mainly feed on flying insects (5) (6).
There is no information on the status of the blue powder damsel population but its breeding habitat is thought to be being degraded through pollution and over-harvesting of water. In addition, there is concern that a reduction in rainfall, associated with global climate change, may reduce the total available habitat in the future (1).
The priority for the conservation of the blue powder damsel and other dragonfly and damselfly species in southern Arabia is to maintain suitable habitat in the form of clean, running water systems (1) (5).
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- Nymph: stage of insect development, similar in appearance to the adult but sexually immature and without wings. The adult form is reached via a series of moults and the wings develop externally as the nymph grows.
- Odonata: order of insects encompassing dragonflies and damselflies.
IUCN Red List (December, 2008)
- Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
- Giles, G.B. (1998) An Illustrated Checklist of the Damselflies and Dragonflies of the UAE. TRIBULUS, 8(2): 9 - 15.
- 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.
- Moore, N.W. (1997) Dragonflies: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Odonata Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
- O'Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.