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03 October 2013

The love bugs: Adorable damselflies HOLD HANDS as they rest on a flower

These vividly coloured damselflies show they are best buddies, looking like they're holding hands as they cuddle up on a flower. Photographer Alberto Ghizzi Panizza, 38, spotted the insects in the dew as he walked across a flood plain early one morning

It is easy to imagine that these vividly-coloured damselflies are on a romantic insect date as they look as if they are holding hands.

The adorable images were taken by a photographer as he walked across a flood plain early one morning. Photographer Alberto Ghizzi Panizza, 38 from Palma, Italy, took the photos of the big-eyed insects near the River Po in the Po Valley.

Adult damselflies (pictured) eat flies, mosquitoes, and other small insects, while some larger tropical species have been known to feast on spiders. Damselflies rest their wings together, on both sides of their bodies, while dragonflies have wings that are spread apart, even while resting

Struck by their cute poses, he took shots of the damselflies shortly after dawn as they rested on wild flowers. Mr Panizza said: 'I found these cute insects' expressions very funny. 'The morning was cold and wet but they seemed to like being perched on the branches and flowers.

'The funniest photo is where they seem to hold hands and says to the observer: 'This is my partner'.

'I like to call this shot 'Meet Sally', inspired by the famous film When Harry Met Sally.

Struck by their cute poses, he took the shots shortly after dawn as they rested on wild flowers. The insects measure approximately three centimetres long and have large eyes of around one millimetere

The look of love? Photographer Mr Panizza said the damselflies have 'lovely big eyes and it is sweet to think they are two close friends'

'They have such lovely big eyes and it is sweet to think that they are two close friends.'

Mr Panizza said butterfly numbers in the Po Valley area have dropped this year, but damselflies have risen.

The photographer, who has been taking pictures professionally for 15 years, said he also has images of the creatures in profile, which shows how they mate.

'One remains attached to a branch and takes the other by the neck with his tail.

'Lifting it, they form a kind of heart. It's truly extraordinary and complex.

'They maintain this position in the heart for several minutes and may move from one branch to another in flight while remaining attached to each other.'

Despite the insects' cute appearance, they are carnivorous and are similar to dragonflies. The damselflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis with an aquatic nymph stage

Despite the insects' cute appearance, they are carnivorous and are similar to dragonflies.

The damselflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis with an aquatic nymph stage.

After their mating ritual, the female lays her eggs in water, sometimes in underwater vegetation and the eggs hatch into nymphs, which feed on mosquito larvae and small aquatic organisms using extendable jaws similar to the dragonfly nymph.

The gills of damselfly nymphs are large and external, resembling three fins at the end of the abdomen and after moulting several times the winged adult emerges.

Adults eat flies, mosquitoes, and other small insects, while some larger tropical species have been known to feast on spiders. Damselflies rest their wings together, on both sides of their bodies, while dragonflies have wings that are spread apart, even while resting.

The photographer, who has been taking pictures professionally for 15 years, said he also has photos of the creatures in profile, which shows how they mate

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