The giant African dragonfly settles in Barcelona

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
21 March 2023 Tuesday 20:42
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The giant African dragonfly settles in Barcelona

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia

Since last week, in the orchard of the Pedralbes monastery in Barcelona, ​​the presence of many dragonflies Anax ephippiger (Wandering Emperor) has been detected.

For me it is the first time that I see them in this part of the city. Despite the fact that it does not stop flying and when it perches it camouflages itself among the leaves and it is difficult to see it, I have been able to elaborate this photographic report in detail, both of the male and the female, for Las Fotos de los Lectores de La Vanguardia.

Its scientific name alludes to the characteristic blue saddle. In males it is a very noticeable element, as can be seen in these snapshots.

This large, sand-colored dragonfly is found primarily in the dry regions of Africa and Asia. Despite being a migrant, its increasingly notable presence in Spain is considered to be a sign of climate change, although its presence in the Iberian Peninsula has been more continuous in Andalusia.

Three main routes of colonization to the north of this species capable of large movements have been detected. From West Africa, passing through the Iberian Peninsula; from East Africa, passing through the Levant; and through India-Iran.

To get an idea of ​​how the climate influences their migrations, in 2016, the Citizen Science network detected only one specimen in the province of Álava, while, a year later, "an uncountable number, hundreds, thousands" were observed. Because? Well, coinciding with the heat waves and the mass of warm air coming from Africa.

This large species (61 – 66 mm) is characterized by its sandy coloration and brown eyes, as can be seen in the photographs.

The male has a globose head that is large in relation to the body and has two black bars on its forehead. The female is the same but brown in color and slightly smaller in size.

In this case, the giant dragonfly has been detected in the Pedralbes area, but it is more frequent to see it in stagnant and shallow waters with abundant vegetation on the shores. Also in rivers and streams.

It prefers arid and hot climates. We must not forget that this last autumn and winter have been rather dry and hot, not only in Barcelona, ​​but throughout the Mediterranean region. Will we have to get more and more used to seeing this dragonfly?