Of the many varied creatures that reside in and around Thala, one of the more colourful and mysterious would surely be the rainforest dragonfly. Firstly, these colourful and powerful hoverers, who look as if they belong in Avatar, can fly sideways and backwards, as well as forwards.
Found throughout various parts of the world, rainforest dragonflies generally enjoy hovering around creek beds, in forest glades and along walking tracks. Belonging to the insect group Odonata, they are often seen near bodies of water and are frequently described as being aquatic insects.
Other characteristics of the rainforest dragonfly are their huge eyes, which contain up to 30,000 facets. They can also fly up to 40km/ph, assisted by their long, slender body, and two powerful wings. The wings are semi-translucent and often red, blue, orange or brown, and are well designed for powerful flight.
The diet of the rainforest dragonfly is mainly carnivorous, as they feed off smaller insects such as flies. The strong jaws of the rainforest dragonfly are well designed for crunching through the meat ridden flesh of their fellow kind.
Dragonfly larvae, which are able to swim submersed, will hunt entirely underwater, ambushing small animals such as tadpoles. The dragonfly larvae nab their prey by extending their lower lip, where lie two curved, flexible teeth.
Interestingly, the fertilisation of the rainforest dragonfly egg only takes place when they are being laid, with the female having stored sperm from earlier male encounters. The penis of the male dragonfly is also designed to scoop out any sperm previously deposited, or to disperse it away from the oviduct so that his is placed in pole position for fertilisation.
Lovers of sunlight, the rainforest dragonfly will often dart from patch to patch, seeking the brightest rays over lawns, clearings, or other semi-manicured fields of green. After all, being predominantly a flyer doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy a good frolic.