Sunday, March 25, 2018

Amazon Sapphirewing

Looking through photographs of Costa Rican Odonata, the Amazon Sapphirewing (Zenithoptera fasciata) stands out as one spectacular dragonfly. All of us hoped we would encounter this species. On the morning of 13 July 2017 at the Laguna del Lagarto Lodge, we hiked up an incredibly muddy road along the lodge’s ponds. There we found sapphirewings. I regret that I did not spend more time chasing the sapphirewings. The male in the first photo perched quite some distance away in a marsh. The female in the second was much closer, on the roadside. I would have liked to get closer images of a male.

Later in the morning we took a hike in the jungle. We came upon another female sapphirewing deep within the forest. Dennis remarked that seeing a dragonfly with its wings splayed out in different directions was strange. Perhaps the dragonfly was moving oxygen through its wing trachea. Most dragonfly wings lack air passages, the wings being composed of non-living cuticle. Guillermo-Ferreira et al. (2017) discovered trachea within Zenithoptera wings. These authors surmise that the trachea in sapphirewings are needed to supply air to melanin-filled cuticle layers, which contribute to this dragonfly's unique structural coloration.

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