Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 December 2017 | 9(12): 11067–11073






Dragonflies and damselflies of University of North Bengal campus, West Bengal, India with new distribution record of Agriocnemis kalinga Nair & Subramanian, 2014


Aaratrik Pal


Department of Botany, University of North Bengal, Rajarammohunpur, Darjeeling, West Bengal 734013, India





doi: | ZooBank:


Editor: K.A. Subramanian, Zoological Survey of India, Chennai, India. Date of publication: 26 December 2017 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 3785 | Received 08 August 2017 | Finally accepted 28 November 2017


Citation: Pal, A. (2017). Dragonflies and damselflies of University of North Bengal campus, West Bengal, India with new distribution record of Agriocnemis kalinga Nair & Subramanian, 2014. Journal of Threatened Taxa 9(12): 11067–11073;


Copyright: © Pal 2017. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: None.


Competing interests: The author declares no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: I’m greatly thankful to Prosenjit Dawn for his review of the primary manuscript and comments on it. I’m also thankful to Arajush Payra, Noppadon Makbun, Shantanu Joshi, Dr. Monoranjan Chowdhury, Amar Nayak and Ayantik Pal for their support, encouragement, and help in species identification. Support and assistance from my family and my friends also deserve special mention.





Abstract: A study was made to determine the present status of the diversity of the dragonflies and damselflies from University of North Bengal campus and its surroundings. The study shows the presence of total 69 species of odonates belonging to 41 genera and nine families from the area. Agriocnemis kalinga Nair & Subramanian, 2014 is recorded for the first time from northern Bengal.


Keywords: Dragonflies, Damselflies, diversity, NBU, northern Bengal, Odonata.




Dragonflies (Anisoptera) and damselflies (Zygoptera) are two sub-orders belonging to the single order Odonata. They have a very wide range of distribution. They are found to occur in both terrestrial (as adults) and fresh water ecosystems (as larvae) and can easily be spotted in dense forests, grasslands or even from our balconies; in rivers, lakes or sea coasts (Fraser 1933; Subramanian 2005; Nair 2011). There are more than 6,250 species of odonates worldwide and India has 487 species (152 genera and 18 families) representing this group (Subramanian 2014; Schorr & Paulson 2016; Subramanian & Babu 2017). Their presence has a good impact on ecosystems. The adult insects lay their eggs on water bodies and the species are usually habitat-specific. The habitat specificity and sensitivity of odonates to environmental pollution helps us to determine the health or fitness of the associated aquatic ecosystems (Subramanian 2005; Tiple et al. 2013). The larvae and the adults both are fantastic predators and they act to control the population of other insects. This also results in controlling the mosquito population.

Northern Bengal (Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts) is well known for its rich flora and fauna. Previous studies by Fraser (1933, 1934, 1935a,b,c,d, 1936, 1940) contained many records and descriptions of odonates from this area. Later, Srivastava & Sinha (1993) provided a checklist of 185 species of odonates of West Bengal with records of 137 species from northern Bengal. Recently, Dawn (2017) reported 66 species of odonates from two protected areas of northern Bengal. The present study reports status and diversity of odonates from the University of North Bengal and its surrounding areas.



Materials and Methods

Study Area

The campus of the University of North Bengal (NBU) lies between 26.70500000– 26.71583333 N and 88.50722222–88.36111111 E covering about 331 acres of land at the foothills of Darjeeling Himalaya (Siliguri Sub-Division, Darjeeling District) (Image 1). The campus is home to several plants (e.g., Critically Endangered Streptocaulon sylvestre Wight), amphibians, reptiles, birds (Indian Grey Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Green Imperial Pigeon) etc. There are two semi-perennial streams within the campus and a large area remains sub-merged during the monsoons. Apart from these, rubber plantations, bamboo groves, mixed forest of Shorea, Lagerstroemia, Holarrhena among others are also present; two large gardens and fields dominated by grasses, herbs and ferns provide excellent shelter and breeding habitat for the odonates (Image 2).







Data collection

The survey was conducted during 2014–2017 and observations were mainly done on four sites within the campus and a single site outside the campus (Table 1). Photographs of the odonates were taken using Canon Powershot sx510 HS and Canon EOS 1200d. In very few cases the odonates were captured to take some close photographs and released immediately, in no cases were these insects harmed or killed. Odonates were identified using the keys provided by Fraser (1933, 1934, 1936), Subramanian (2005), and Nair (2011); some personal scientific interactions and websites were also useful.


A total of 69 species of odonates belonging to nine families and 41 genera were documented (Table 2) during the study, out of which 67 species were recorded from the campus and two species from the surroundings (Images 4–8). Among them, Libellulidae had the largest number of species (35) and also the largest number of genera (22) followed by Coenagrionidae having 21 species and eight genera. Aeshnidae had five species under three genera and Gomphidae and Platycnemididae had two species each. The families, Macromiidae, Calopterygidae, Chlorocyphidae and Lestidae are represented by a single species. A recently described damselfly, Agriocnemis kalinga Nair & Subramanian, 2014 (Image 7D) is reported for the first time from northern Bengal.
















Some interesting notes of Odonata behavior and habitat preference was taken during this survey. Among dragonflies, Brachydiplax chalybea, Crocothemis servilia, Diplacodes trivialis, Neurothemis fulvia, Orthetrum pruinosum, O. sabina, Pantala flavescens, Potamarcha congener, Rhyothemis variegata, Rhodothemis rufa, Tholymis tillarga and Trithemis aurora were the most abundant species.

Pantala flavescens, Rhyothemis variegata, Tramea basilaris, T. limbata, Hydrobasileus croceus, Anax guttatus and A. indicus, were found to have endless flight in the air and foraging on the flying insects, rest of the time these insects were found hanging under the shade of trees (Rhyothemis and Tramea did not show specific hanging behavior). Trithemis pallidinervis and Urothemis signata were found gliding sometimes and most of the time perching on twigs of small woody plants.

Anax guttatus, A. indicus, Ictinogomphus rapax, Aethriamanta brevipennis, Acisoma panorpoides, Agrionoptera insignis, Brachydiplax chalybea, B. farinosa, B. sobrina, Brachythemis contaminata, Diplacodes nebulosa, Neurothemis tullia, Rhodothemis rufa, Rhyothemis plutonia, R. variegata, Tramea basilaris, T. limbata and Trithemis festiva were mainly distributed near waterbodies. Trithemis festiva was strictly associated with only streams.

Crocothemis servilia, Diplacodes nebulosa, D. trivialis, Neurothemis intermedia, N. tullia, Orthetrum sabina, Palpopleura sexmaculata, Rhodothemis rufa, Trithemis aurora, T. festiva and T. pallidinervis were found to prefer waiting on ground level grasses, herbaceous and dry plants, rocks etc. for their prey. On the other hand Epophthalmia, Lathrecista asiatica, Orthetrum chrysis and Potamarcha congener were found perching on higher branches, electric wires and boundary wires. Unlike these day-active dragonflies, species like Gynacantha dravida, G. khasiaca, Anaciaeschna jaspidea and Zyxomma petiolatum were crepuscular in nature and during daylight were found hiding in dense bushes or under the shade of trees.

Most of the damselflies were found closely associated with waterbodies. Among them Agriocnemis lacteola, Agriocnemis pygmaea, Agriocnemis femina, Ceriagrion coromandelianum and Ischnura aurora were the most abundant species throughout the study area and recorded several times at a far distance from waterbodies. Species like Neurobasis chinensis, Libellago lineata, Ceriagrion rubiae, Mortonagrion aborense, Paracercion calamorum, P. malayanum, Pseudagrion australasiae, P. microcephalum, P. rubriceps, P. spencei, Lestes praemorsus, Copera marginipes and Onychargia atrocyana were more or less confined to water nearby. Neurobasis chinensis and Libellago lineata were restricted to rocky steams. Some damselflies, Ceriagrion cerinorubellum, Ceriagrion olivaceum, Mortonagrion aborense and Copera marginipes notably preferred shade.



Agriocnemis kalinga Nair & Subramanian, 2014: A single female damselfly (Image 7D) was recorded on 02/10/2016 from an ephemeral water body (26.70722222 N & 88.36916667 E). It was even smaller than Agriocnemis pygmaea, A. lacteola or Enallagma parvum, smallest representatives of the group (Coenagrionidae). According to Nair & Subramanian (2014), A. kalinga is distributed throughout southern Bengal and Odisha. Later on Khan (2015) reported A. kalinga from Bangladesh; Boruah et al. (2016) from Assam. A recent record from the study area shows range extension of the species. A map is provided with recent and earlier records of this species (Image 3) including records from Joshi & Kunte (2014), Kalita (2014), Nayak & Roy (2016) and Anonymous (2017).





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