Giant Helicopter Damselfly (Megaloprepus caerulatus)
Watercolor and colored pencil

The giant helicopter damselfly ranges from Mexico to Brazil and is the largest damselfly in the world, with a wingspan of up to 8 inches. Damselflies can be distinguished from dragonflies by their wings, which fold back along their body while at rest. The flight pattern of this species seems to defy logic, as they appear to move their expansive four wings in different directions and at different rates. They flit through their tropical rainforest habitat, searching for the webs of orb-weaving spiders, which they grasp and pull from their perch before consuming. Damselflies require patches of water in which to lay their eggs and will often use tree holes or the standing water in the tanks of bromeliad plants. Close relatives of this species have existed on the planet since the Triassic period, 200 million years ago.

This illustration was produced for the exemplar pages of the Encyclopedia of Life (

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