Agriocnemis femina is a small damselfly measuring up to only about 17mm in body length. This species undergoes colour changes with maturity and mature males have a whitish synthorax. This dainty damselfly is common around ponds and drains and they share the same habitat with another damselfly species, Ceriagrion cerinorubellum.
C. cerinorubellum is about a size bigger than A. femina. They are fierce predators and it was not long before we chanced upon a C. cerinorubellum attacking and consuming an A. femina. The prey’s head had been consumed but we could clearly see that it was an immature male A. femina from the orange tip at the abdomen. The C. cerinorubellum was so engrossed on lunch that it simply ignored me as I approached it really close to get a clear picture.
In nature, it is a case of eat or be eaten. This time the predator became the prey. A Lynx Spider (Oxyopes sp.) had captured a C. cerinorubellum. Lynx Spiders have keen eyesight and they hunt down their prey with very agile movements. This individual must have sprung an ambush on C. cerinorubellum which did not stand a chance once the spider sank in its fangs.
As we were leaving Lorong Halus, C. cerinorubellum reminded us that it is still an awesome predator among the small invertebrates. I managed to record a video of one consuming a fly-like insect. I would imagine the chase prior to capture must be quite a dogfight, a battle for air supremacy on a miniature scale. These little insects might not have the iconic status of lions or tigers. But they are just are vicious and ruthless when it comes to feeding time. I think back to the movie ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’. With these fearsome insects around, that would be a real nightmare comes true.
Pictures and video taken at: Lorong Halus, November 2007.
Koh, K. H. J., 1989. A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders. Singapore Science Centre.
Orr, A. G., 2005. Dragonflies of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, Natural History Publications (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd, Malaysia.