Red-Veined Darter Dragonfly

It’s a glorious day here in Italy. I’ve climbed to the top of a hill and can see across the valley:

Tarquinia - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


There’s the rattle of a dragonfly nearby:

Red-Veined Darter Dragonfly - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


It’s a Red-Veined Darter, Sympetrum fonscolombii. It’s an incredible organism. People have tri-chromatic vision, which means we see colours in red, blue and green. I can see that this dragonfly is red, blue and green.

Dragonflies, however, have the most incredible colour vision. A study in Japan showed they all have at least 11 different light-sensitive proteins called Opsins. Some even have 30 different ones. They are likely to be able to see in the ultra-violet section of the spectrum as well as seeing polarised light.


I hope it can see just how stormy it looks. 

Red-Veined Darter Dragonfly - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


What a bizarre living world we have, where dragonflies have evolved over the past 325 million years to have over 3000 species.

We are both perched here at the top of this hill. What does it see?

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