Researchers identify new species of dragonfly in Brazil

October 26, 2016, FAPESP
New species of dragonfly named Erythrodiplax ana has brown spots on its wingtips and a waxy body coating. Credit: Rhainer Guillermo Ferreira

A new species of dragonfly with a brown spot on each of its four wingtips and a bluish waxy body coating has been described by Brazilian researchers in an article published in the scientific journal Zootaxa. Found in 2011 near a spring on the Itororó Ecological Reserve in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, it has been named Erythrodiplax ana.

The was identified during the PhD research of Rhainer Guillermo Ferreira, that was supported by a scholarship from FAPESP during his postdoctoral research.

"The discovery is important above all because of the site where the species was found," said Ferreira, first author of the article and assistant professor at the Federal University of São Carlos's Center for Biological & Health Sciences (CCBS-UFSCar). "The nature reserve contains a vereda, a palm swamp wetland that provides part of Uberlândia's water supply. The discovery of a new species in an urban area and with a habitat linked to a spring used to draw off water shows how little we know of Brazil's biodiversity," he told.

He added that dragonflies are natural predators of flies and important environmental indicators. "When you find these insects in the wild near a watercourse, it means the water's good," he said.

Between 2011 and 2014, the researchers compared the blue dragonfly's morphology with those of 57 other species in the same genus. At the end of the period, they confirmed its status as a new species and began working on a description.

A combination of two traits distinguishes E. ana from other species in the genus. Particularly important is that the male's body is covered with bluish wax. The female does not produce wax and is ochraceous (yellowish-orange). "Males of several species in this genus produce wax," Ferreira said. "Some have wax only on their wings, which are bright blue."

Another key trait of E. ana is the brown spot on each wingtip, which is rare in this genus.

Ferreira is investigating whether the wax serves as a kind of sunscreen to protect the male's body from solar radiation since the insect is exposed to sunlight for many hours every day. Previous studies evaluated the properties of the wax found in other species and concluded that the blue coloring serves to reflect the sun's ultraviolet rays, he noted.

The researchers believe E. ana is characteristic of wetlands in the Cerrado (savanna) biome. Besides the Uberlândia reserve, it was also found by the group in Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, Mato Grosso State.

Explore further: New blind and rare planthopper species and genus dwells exclusively in a Brazilian cave

Related Stories

Teresensis' bromeliad treefrog found in Brazil

December 9, 2015

A new tree frog species, Dendropsophus bromeliaceus, spends its tadpole stage in pooled water that collects in bromeliad plants in the Brazilian Atlantic forest, according to a study published December 9, 2015 in the open-access ...

Three new wafer trapdoor spiders from Brazil

November 20, 2013

Scientists discover three new gorgeous species of the wafer trapdoor genus Fufius – F. minusculus, F. jalapensis, and F. candango. The discovery of the three new species, published in the open access journal ZooKeys, paves ...

Brazil scientists discover three new toad species

December 2, 2015

Brazilian scientists announced Wednesday the discovery of three previously unknown species of poisonous toads in the fast-shrinking Atlantic forest of southern Brazil, an area dubbed an "incubator" of new life forms.

New planthopper species found in southern Spain

July 22, 2014

Not much is known about the the genus of planthopper known as Conosimus, which now includes six species after a new one was recently discovered in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula in the Spanish city of Jaen. A ...

Recommended for you

A decade on, smartphone-like software finally heads to space

March 20, 2019

Once a traditional satellite is launched into space, its physical hardware and computer software stay mostly immutable for the rest of its existence as it orbits the Earth, even as the technology it serves on the ground continues ...

Tiny 'water bears' can teach us about survival

March 20, 2019

Earth's ultimate survivors can weather extreme heat, cold, radiation and even the vacuum of space. Now the U.S. military hopes these tiny critters called tardigrades can teach us about true toughness.

Researchers find hidden proteins in bacteria

March 20, 2019

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a way to identify the beginning of every gene—known as a translation start site or a start codon—in bacterial cell DNA with a single experiment and, through ...

Turn off a light, save a life, says new study

March 20, 2019

We all know that turning off lights and buying energy-efficient appliances affects our financial bottom line. Now, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, we know that saving energy also saves ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.