It is that time of the year again when the creepy crawlies come out. There are those who hate the monsoon for the insect life it brings out, and then, there are those who make a festival of it.
It is dragonfly season and Delhi is celebrating it with a month-long dragonfly festival in August. The main festival is being hosted by World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF) and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
The festival was launched by WWF India secretary general Ravi Singh on Friday. “Dragonflies and damselflies are beautiful creatures that play a crucial role in keeping our surroundings healthy and complete,” he said.
The festival will include conservation programmes, drawing competitions, campus count in various locations across the capital and, of course, the big contest—the dragonfly photography contest. This is the second year that the dragonfly contest is being held; the previous one was held last year.
The festival is an effort to sensitise city dwellers about these insects, which are natural pest control agents. The adult dragonflies snack on mosquitoes as well as mosquito larvae. The Indian Dragonfly Society (IDS) has trained the resource people for the festival to become dragonfly educators. The organisers hope that by next year, the festival will help build up a team of amateur conservationists to document dragonflies in the city and monitor their increasing numbers.
The festival will also see the release of a book titled 'Dragonflies and Damselflies of Delhi and NCR' by Naznee Siddique.
Dragonflies and their daintier cousins, the damselflies, are carnivorous insects belonging to the order Odonata. There are 503 species which are found in India, according to the IDS. They are beautiful insects, which come in a range of attractive colours—golden, black shot with red, turquoise, and are found in abundance during the rains. Called nature's helicopters, children are known to catch them and tie strings around their bodies and fly them as living toys. This, of course, is unhealthy for the insects, but they become easy victims to this sport since they are very easy to catch.
Among the more sensitised people, dragonfly wings provide photographers great opportunity with their cameras. No wonder then that the photography contest is a big hit. There is not much understanding about dragonflies among the public, and this festival hopes to fill that lacuna. For instance, few people know that the insects spend a major portion of their life cycle as aquatic larvae, and only a few weeks as adult insects. Thus, loss of water bodies is a major threat to their existence. Pond dipping and cleaning are part for the activities planned during the festival.