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Brilliant emerald

Somatochlora metallica

Photo: Brilliant emerald
Weights and measures
Length from 50 to 60 mm
Wingspan from 70 to 75 mm
Animal description
The Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) is a captivating species of dragonfly belonging to the Corduliidae family, renowned for its mesmerizing metallic sheen and agile flight. This enchanting creature is a marvel of the insect world, displaying a fascinating blend of resilience, elegance, and complexity in its behavior and physical attributes.

Measuring between 45 to 55 millimeters in length, the Brilliant Emerald boasts a robust and streamlined body, perfectly adapted for its aerial lifestyle. The most striking feature of this dragonfly is undoubtedly its brilliant metallic green coloration that covers its body, shimmering in the sunlight and giving the insect its common name. The thorax and abdomen are adorned with this metallic green, with the latter showing a subtle segmentation that adds to its intricate appearance. The wings of the Brilliant Emerald are equally impressive, being long, slender, and almost entirely transparent, save for a slight amber tint near the wing bases. These wings beat at an incredible speed, allowing the dragonfly to hover, dart, and dive with remarkable agility and precision.

The head of the Brilliant Emerald is dominated by two large, compound eyes that provide an almost 360-degree field of vision, enabling it to spot potential prey or predators from a distance. These eyes are a deep, rich green, complementing the metallic sheen of its body. Below the eyes, small but powerful mandibles are perfectly adapted for seizing and consuming a variety of prey, primarily consisting of smaller insects that it captures mid-flight.

Habitat-wise, the Brilliant Emerald is typically found in and around freshwater environments such as lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers, and marshes. These habitats provide not only the necessary water for the dragonfly's aquatic larval stage but also an abundance of prey for the adults. The larvae, or nymphs, are aquatic predators, lurking in the water until they undergo a remarkable transformation into their adult form, emerging from the water to shed their exoskeleton in a process known as ecdysis.

The Brilliant Emerald is a solitary creature, often seen patrolling its territory at high speeds, darting back and forth over the water's surface in search of food or mates. During the breeding season, males become particularly territorial, engaging in aerial displays and combats to defend their chosen patch of water from rivals.

Despite its beauty and fascinating behavior, the Brilliant Emerald faces threats from habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change, which impact freshwater ecosystems globally. Conservation efforts are crucial to ensure the survival of this species, emphasizing the importance of protecting their natural habitats and maintaining the ecological balance of freshwater ecosystems.

In summary, the Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) is a dazzling specimen within the dragonfly family, embodying the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Its metallic sheen, agile flight, and intricate life cycle make it a subject of admiration and intrigue, highlighting the importance of conserving the delicate ecosystems that support such remarkable creatures.
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