Giant “Blue-winged Helicopter”

Damselfly PanamaMegalopus caerulatus The Giant “Blue-winged Helicopter” Damselfly.

Bocatoranian forests are host of one of the largest Odonate (Dragonflies and Damselflies) in the world, for most of the body measurements, The Blue-winged Helicopter (Megalopus caerulatus).

They are common insects but, the encounters are always fortunate because of their behavior. They do not have a certain place where they like to congregate like many other damselflies do in creeks, ponds, … this giants of the order Odonata like to drift through the forest or settle in forest light gaps.

During their flight, the white and dark blue colored wing tips, and the reflections while moving them in flight, create a visual effect that causes the blades of a helicopter in the air. Visually it is an extraordinary and delicate show.

Panama Wildlife

Carlos Esquivel, Costa Rican entomologist, an expert in tropical odonates, says in his book “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Middle America and the Caribbean” (where you can find so much interesting information), that the colors of the male´s wings in flight, resemble the coloration of the Heliconius cydno that cohabit the same forests.  With the similitude in colors, there is no better example than to see a male Megalopus caerulatus (the Blue-winged Helicopter) reacting to the presence of a cydno longwing butterfly in their territory.  Cydno longwing butterfly is considered to be a foul tasting butterfly to insect-eating birds and they try to avoid them because of their unpleasant flavor.

Cydno longwing butterfly

Does this similarity give any advantage to the damselfly against an insect-eating bird? …. as it happens with some other South American Damselflies (to the polythorids) that also resemble foul-tasting butterflies?  There is so much to do to keep revealing the secrets that lay in plain sight with tropical biology.

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