Dragonflies and damselfies are attractive creatures, yet they too have parasites! These include gregarines, which live in the intestine. Gregarines are single celled parasites known as apicomplexans, a group that also includes Plasmodium species, which cause malaria. Gregarines parasitize all sorts of invertebrates, such as oysters, beetles, earthworms, harvestmen, and a variety of insects. There are very likely tens of thousands, if not more, undiscovered species of gregarines in nature. For example, we recently found a new species of gregarine in the Eastern fork-tail damselfly in upstate New York, shown in this image. The star-like structure, the epimerite, is used to attach to the intestinal wall. We are now working on describing this new species.
Post and photo contributed by Crystal Wiles and Florian Reyda.