Megaloprepus caerulatus

Physical characteristics: This is the largest damselfly in the world, with a wingspan of 6.4 inches (162.6 millimeters) and a body length of 4 inches (101.6 millimeters). Their wings have a wide, dark blue band. The males are larger than the females and have a white patch before the blue band and the glassy wingtip. The females are shorter, with only white patches on their wingtips.

Geographic range: The forest giant lives in the rainforests of Central and South America, from Mexico to Bolivia.

The largest damselfly in the world, the forest giant has a wingspan of 6.4 inches (162.6 millimeters) and a body length of 4 inches (101.6 millimeters). (Illustration by Jacqueline Mahannah. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: The larvae breed in water that collects at the bases of plants growing on the limbs of rainforest trees. Adults prefer sunlit gaps or clearings in the forest.

Diet: The adults are specialist hunters. They search for spiders and pluck them from their webs. Occasionally, they feed on the spider's own prey, which is wrapped in silk. The larvae feed on mosquito and fly larvae and small crustaceans (krus-TAY-shuns), animals that live in water and have soft, segmented bodies covered by a hard shell. They also eat tadpoles and the larvae of other species of dam-selflies.

Behavior and reproduction: Because their special breeding sites are scattered throughout the forest, these insects are never abundant at any given place or time. In an open forest gap, a territorial male uses a slow wing beat to appear as a pulsating, rhythmically beating, blue-and-white beacon to possible mates and to competing males. The male aggressively defends a particular tree hole for up to three months. After mating, the female uses her long abdomen to lay her eggs inside tree holes filled with water.

Forest giants and people: This species is not known to affect people or their activities.

Conservation status: This species is not endangered or threatened.

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