Get Downright Violet

I spent the weekend out at Ruidera Natural Park on the border of Albacete and Ciudad Real and saw a lot of these sublimely coloured Violet Dropwings. Sadly I didn´t bring my camera to where I saw them as we went by canoe and my wifes P+S was set to some rubbish resolution. Happily though I found more here out the road in Picón and they too were as relaxed as the Ruidera ones allowing you to get within a metre of them to take in their beautiful colours.

This medium sized dragonfly is of tropical African origins and can be found all the way down to South Africa however has extended into Europe along the Mediterranean. First records in Spain were in the 1970s and from there spread to Corsica, southern France and Italy through the 80´s and 90´s.

The males beautiful colouration comes from having a red base and an overlaid bluish pruinescence. “Pruinescence, or pruinosity, is a “bloom” caused by pigment on top of an insect’s cuticle that covers up the underlying coloration, giving a dusty or frosted appearance” according to Wikipedia. It´s bright cherry coloured eyes then just top it all off.

The females on the other hand have a more yellow-brown body with a dorsal bar on segments 8 and 9 towards the tail. Both have amber wing bases and the male as you can see has bright red veins.

Their habitat is generally a warm area near open lakes or lagoons and gravel pits. I found them to be a very curious creature simply by the fact that they stayed on their perches if you aproached very slowly. When I called my wife over, it would move its head to get a look at each of us or turn slightly to get a better view, although with compound eyes I wouldn´t have thought that necessary, however since they react to movement, slower motion is obviously better. I wonder what they do see through all those little lenses…it must be a bit like a kaleidoscope.

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