Monday, May 08, 2006

Snake-like damselfly

I found a large red damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula, resting in M3 by Thistle Moor yesterday evening. It was half asleep so quite easy to photograph.

It is one of the first damselflies on the wing and I usually see a few around the garden each year. I am pretty sure they breed in the small pond about 6 or 8 metres from M3.

I was struck by the similarity in colour and pattern of the damselfly's body to that of the highly venemous coral snake - see top picture - and this is, presumably, an attempt to discourage predators by looking like something that might be toxic. Coral snakes do not occur in North West Europe and my guess is that this is simply parallel evolution of deterrant colours and pattern.

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