In Goa, where dragonflies appear, mosquitoes disappear

Dragonflies keep mosquito populations in check, reducing the likelihood of mosquito-borne diseases
Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar (in blue), explains the importance of dragonflies during a recent walk along the Carambolim Lake in North Goa.
Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar (in blue), explains the importance of dragonflies during a recent walk along the Carambolim Lake in North Goa.Photo: Benhail Antao

Insects can be anything but endearing, and are largely considered pests to be swotted when spotted. Simply because they are tiny and unattractive isn’t reason enough to underestimate them.

Take for example, the dragonfly which flits about at certain times of the year.

Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar (in blue), explains the importance of dragonflies during a recent walk along the Carambolim Lake in North Goa.
Goa Bird Atlas will gauge Goa's forests ecosystem: Pronoy Baidya

Dragonflies and damselflies are accurate bio-indicators as the presence, or absence of such species, is a reflection of the health of that particular ecosystem, especially wetlands, which are abundant in Goa, according to naturalist, Parag Rangnekar.

Speaking during a recent walk at Carambolim titled ‘Wetland Wings: Dragonfly & Damselfly Walk’, Rangnekar stated that smaller fauna are best suited as indicators of ecosystems’ health as they are unable to adapt to sudden changes in the environment and, either, migrate or perish.

Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar (in blue), explains the importance of dragonflies during a recent walk along the Carambolim Lake in North Goa.
Take a wild guess at what dwells in the mangroves of Chorao island in Goa

Rangnekar’s walk, held along the Carambolim Lake in North Goa, was conducted as part of the Greener Side Campaign, an initiative by Echoes of Earth, India’s greenest festival, that aims to shine the spotlight on the Western Ghats and raise awareness about the importance of conserving Goa’s rich biodiversity.

“As far as human civilization is concerned, the wetlands have a very important role to play in people’s livelihoods. This type of land provides us with ecosystem services like climate regulation due to the watery terrain, and is also utilised for agricultural purposes,” Rangnekar said.

Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar, shows participants how to correctly handle a dragonfly during a recent workshop, titled 'Wetland Wings: Dragonfly & Damselfly Walk', held as part of the Echoes of Earth's Greener Side Campaign.
Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar, shows participants how to correctly handle a dragonfly during a recent workshop, titled 'Wetland Wings: Dragonfly & Damselfly Walk', held as part of the Echoes of Earth's Greener Side Campaign.Photo: Benhail Antao

Rangnekar, an ecologist, emphasised the connection that dragonflies and damselflies – collectively known as odonates – have with the wetlands.

“Half the odonates’ life is spent underwater during the egg and larval stage. If the water body gets polluted, or the water column subsides or evaporates, the diversity of the odonates’ population is immediately affected,” stated Rangnekar.

“Hence, just the presence or absence of a species indicates the health of the wetlands,” he added.

The walk aimed to generate interest in participants to explore the fascinating and still not widely traversed world of odonates.

Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar (in blue), explains the importance of dragonflies during a recent walk along the Carambolim Lake in North Goa.
Post your sea swim, chill out at these cafes in Morjim, Goa

“It is a shame that these creatures are all around us, and we never really pay attention to them for various reasons – either lack of exposure, interest or time. I am glad that I made time for this and learned about the odonates’ significance to ecosystems at large,” said wildlife rescuer, Benhail Antao, who participated in the walk.

According to Rangnekar, there are 108 species of Odonates in Goa, but there has been no in-depth research conducted as people do not find them as interesting as birds or butterflies, even though odonates play an equally important role in maintaining Goa’s biodiversity.

“Odonates, particularly dragonflies, are apex predators and species like the Granite Ghost feed exclusively on mosquitoes, keeping their population under control and preventing the spread of deadly diseases like dengue, malaria and other vector-borne ailments,” said Rangnekar.

“Aquatic dragonfly nymphs also feed on mosquito larvae and effectively restrict mosquito breeding,” he added.

He suggested that there was a need to trigger the innate selfishness of humans to aid in the conservation of the wetlands.

Naturalist, Parag Rangnekar (in blue), explains the importance of dragonflies during a recent walk along the Carambolim Lake in North Goa.
Meet this Goan boy who has danced his way to the top

“If we want the wetlands for ourselves, we will go out of our way to ensure their health. Indirectly, this selfishness will benefit odonates, and will in turn, control mosquito populations. We need to establish this mutually beneficial relationship between humans and odonates,” he said.

Registrar of Healthway Hospitals, Vasco, Dr Samidha Kurdikar, also attributes the recent uptick in dengue and malaria cases to climate change and insufficient vector control measures, of which dragonflies comprise a significant part the latter.

“Stagnant pockets of water, present in neglected and untidy gardens, parks and construction sites are notorious breeding grounds for mosquitoes, especially posing a greater threat when near human habitation,” said Kurdikar.

Hence, individual efforts to prevent these diseases is important, adds Kurdikar.

Your Gateway to Goa, India

The Gomantak Times app is the best way to stay informed on anything happening in Goa. From breaking news to the top 10 restaurants to visit, GT helps you navigate your time in Goa.

Download the Gomantak Times app on your Android or IOS device.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Gomantak Times
www.gomantaktimes.com