Scarlet Dwarf: World’s Smallest Dragonfly Spotted in Wakayama

Society Guide to Japan

The scarlet dwarf is one of the smallest dragonflies on the planet. At around 20 millimeters in length, it is no larger than a one-yen coin. The species can be found in wetlands and flooded rice paddies in higher elevations in many parts of Japan, but it is especially associated with the Ōtani rice fields in Kozagawa, Wakayama Prefecture, where it is afforded protection as a special natural monument.

In mid-May, several newly emerged red and black males and one female, distinguished by its yellowish-brown tint, were spotted in wetlands in the mountains of the prefecture’s southerly Kinan region.

Known in Japanese as hacchōtonbō, the dragonfly was once abundant across Wakayama. However, loss of habitat and other environmental factors have seen its distribution shrink. Registered on the prefecture red list of threatened species, in recent years specimens have only been seen in the south of the prefecture.

(Originally published in Japanese on Kyō on May 15, 2023. Translated and edited by Banner photo: A male scarlet dwarf dragonfly next to a one-yen coin.)

[© Kii Minpō/Kyōdoshi conference. All rights reserved.]

wildlife insects Wakayama Kyōdoshi