Dragonflies in Japan

2023 September 24

During the last two weeks of August 2023, Sandy, Sam, and Rosie all went to Japan to see what they could see. And one of the things they saw were these fine dragonflies, which Sam photographed for me. She said they were very cooperative and posed nicely.

I went to BugGuide to see if I could find something close to these dragonflies, but I didn’t really expect to find anything since BugGuide is explicitly restricted to things found in North America. All I hoped for was to find something maybe in the same family. But imagine my surprise when I apparently actually found it! It appears to be the Scarlet Skimmer, Crocothemis servilia. A female, of course. The males are bright red, but the females are this exact color.

Sam says that they were extremely common, and would pose like that with their tails in the air and let her get really close. These are actually pictures of two individuals in Nikko, one near their hotel and the other near the train station. She also says that Nikko had more bug life than Kamakura (which had more butterflies and cicadas, while Nikko had dragonflies and electric-blue damselflies). Tokyo, on the other hand was nearly insect-free.

Anyway, these dragonflies are in fact native to Japan, but they are in BugGuide because they have been accidentally introduced to Florida and Hawaii. It seems that they are fairly tolerant of low-quality water (polluted or with low oxygen levels), and so they do well in artificially constructed or degraded wetlands compared to other dragonfly species. And since these are the typical types of wetlands around cities, these are probably the most common urban dragonflies in Japan.

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