Nannophya pygmaea Rambur, 1842 (Scarlet Dwarf)
by Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas
Nannophya pygmaea Rambur, 1842 (Scarlet Dwarf)
by Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas

Nannophya pygmaea, commonly known as Scarlet Dwarf, is a species of tiny dragonfly belonging to the family Libellulidae. The common name is derived from the size of its body which is the smallest among the Anisoptera (Nakamuta et al., 1983). Its hindwings may measure up to 12 mm while its body length is only 17 mm, making it the smallest dragonfly species in Peninsular Malaysia, and one of the smallest in the world (Choong et al., 2017).

The Scarlet Dwarf is easily identified by its small size, bright red eyes and body. The male is quite attractive with a bright red body and yellow tinted bases of the hindwings and forewings, while the female is brownish yellow with light bands on its abdomen (Choong et al., 2017). Similar to the female, the immature male is also yellowish brown in colour. The male is always spotted perching with depressed wings and raised abdomen (Orr, 2005; Tang et al., 2010). The larvae are squat and tiny, unlike that of the other dragonfly species which are more robust and elongate, and some of which may have a long head and large eyes, and are known to be fierce and agile hunters (Orr, 2005).

The Scarlet Dwarf usually feeds on dayflies. It is normally found on stagnant open water, such as swamps, marshes and grassy ponds at forest edges, up to 1,250 m above sea level. It is widely distributed from subtropical Asia to Australasia (Orr, 2005; Choong et al., 2017).

According to Karube (2009), the population of the Scarlet Dwarf is still strong and stable, especially in areas where its habitat has not been disturbed. However, this species will be threatened by habitat loss due to changes in land-use and agricultural practices, such as crop production and the abandonment of farmed land, as these changes would affect the Scarlet Dwarf’s preferred breeding habitat. Urban development can also have a negative impact on the species’ habitat and result in a decline in the population very quickly. Currently, the Scarlet Dwarf appears on the IUCN Red List and is categorised as Least Concern (LC).


  1. Choong, C.Y., Yasser, M.A. & Nurfarhana-Hizan, H. (2018). Ancient Creatures: Dragonflies and Damselflies of Malaysia. Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources, Putrajaya, Malaysia. pp. 115.
  2. Karube, H. (2009). Nannophya pygmaea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T167187A6312660. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from
  3. Nakamuta, K., Tsubaki, Y., Yasuda, M. & Hibino, Y. (1983). Male reproductive behaviour of the tiny dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea Rambur. Kontyu 51 (4): pp. 605-613
  4. Orr, A.G. (2005). A Pocket Guide: Dragonflies of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Natural History Publication (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. pp. 127.
  5. Tang, H.B., Wang, L.K. & Hämäläinen, M. (2010). A Photographic Guide to the Dragonflies of Singapore. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. pp. 222.
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