Wildlife & Biodiversity

Damselfly species found in Western Ghats named after climate impact on insects

Named Armageddon reedtail after ecological armageddon or insect apocalypse brought on by rampant habitat loss, global warming

By Nandita Banerji
Published: Friday 29 September 2023
Armageddon reedtail or protosticta armageddonia was discovered was discovered northeast of Thiruvananthapuram in the southern part of Western Ghats. Photo: MIT-WPU__

A new damselfly species has been discovered in Kerala’s southern Western Ghats.  Researchers from MIT-World Peace University in Pune named the insect ‘Armageddon reedtail’ or protosticta armageddonia, to draw attention to the global decline of insect populations due to rampant habitat loss and climate change.

This new species, with its ominous name, serves as a stark reminder of the ecological crisis, the researchers said in a statement. Experts are using this discovery as a powerful call to action for world leaders, urging them to address the urgent issues of global warming and its catastrophic impact on biodiversity.

Read more: Climate change influences rise and fall of insect populations: Study

The term ‘ecological armageddon’ is used to describe the devastating decline of insect populations around the world. This phenomenon, also called insect apocalypse, affects entire ecosystems because insects pollinate, cycle nutrients and provide food for other animals.

An article documenting the discovery of the species was also published recently in the International Journal of Odonatology. It has been recorded and registered with the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Pune as well.

The species was discovered northeast of Thiruvananthapuram. It has a captivating dark brown to black body with vibrant greenish-blue eyes, and half of its eight abdominal segments are marked with delicate pale blue markings. Its only habitat is primary montane streams, where it thrives beneath dense canopy cover.

The lead researcher for the study said the naming of the species was a desperate plea for attention. “Just as this species faces the threat of extinction due to habitat loss and changing environmental conditions, countless other endemic and endangered insects are on the brink of vanishing forever,” Pankaj Koparde, assistant professor at MIT-WPU said in the statement.

Read more: Humanity must prevent the insect apocalypse

“We are standing on the precipice of an ecological catastrophe, and urgent action is needed to reverse this course. We need a collaborative effort involving scientists, conservationists, policymakers, and the public to combat climate change and protect our planet's biodiversity,” he added.

The forests of the Western Ghats are changing rapidly due to rampant development and habitat loss, said Reji Chandran, a wildlife photographer, who spotted the species. “The discovery of Armageddon Reedtail serves as a symbolic representation of the broader crisis we are facing and we need to do something about it before it’s too late,” Chandran said in the statement.

The new species is distinct from other damselflies, according to Arajush Payra, the lead author and an entomologist.  “Keying it out was a difficult task, but we now have clarity about its taxonomy. I believe that our discovery will be a milestone in Indian odonatology,” Payra stated in the press note.

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