Sunday 30 December 2007

Neurothemis terminata

Species Name: Neurothemis terminata
Family: Libellulidae

This is one of the common red-winged dragonflies that one sees often in drains, small ditches and ponds. There are several species of Neurothemis whose males typically have dark red pigmented wings with some clear (hyaline) areas, usually at the tips. The females however usually have clear wings with some darker markings. The common species are quite similar in appearance and are difficult to identify in the field.

N. terminata is common on Borneo, most of Indonesia, the Philippines and less so in Peninsular Malaysia.

Saturday 8 December 2007

Libellago semiopaca

Species Name: Libellago semiopaca
Family: Chlorocyphidae

A male L. semiopaca

Two males in confrontation

This is a very interesting damselfly found in bigger and more open forest streams and rivers where they can be seen flying about near the water surface, perched on rocks or fallen logs. Aggressive males confront each other while hovering over the contested territory. Successful males guard their mates by helicoptering to and fro above the females while they lay their eggs in the water.

A female

I can spend hours watching these brightly coloured males and their drabber mates going through their delightful antics. The photos are taken in Silam, Lahad Datu.

Rhinagrion elopurae

Species Name: Rhinagrion elopurae
Family: Megapodagrionidae

Members of the genus Rhinagrion are curious looking and brightly coloured damselflies of which 2 are endemic to Borneo (that means, they are found nowhere else). They live in shaded forest streams and are unusual in that unlike most damselflies, they rest with their wings open like a dragonfly. They also have very small wings on a body that’s thicker than most damselflies.

The species featured on this post is Rhinagrion elopurae which I’ve photographed on vegetation on the side of forested streams in Tabin Wildlife Reserve and at the Madai Waterfall in Lahad Datu. It has a dark coloured body with lime-green markings that form a triangular shape on the top of its thorax and a dark red abdomen tipped with a bright blue flash.

I have not seen a female yet but it is said that she’s similarly coloured as the male but lacks the blue flash at the end of her “tail”.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Orthetrum testaceum

Species Name: Orthetrum testaceum
Family: Libellulidae

Close-up view of male O. testaceum

is one of the largest of the red dragonflies. However it's only the males that are red, the female is olive-green to brown in colour. The males are often seen perched near ponds and drains, flying every now and then. The females are seldom seen, and come to water only during mating and egg-laying when the males will guard her by hovering like a helicopter over her.

This dragonfly is very common in Borneo and is also found in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines and Burma.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Rhinocypha humeralis

Species Name: Rhinocypha humeralis
Family: Chlorocyphidae

(Photos: Top - female, Lok Kawi Wilife Park, Kota Kinabalu;
Bottom - male, Madai Waterfalls, Lahad Datu)

the cool forested streams in the hills where we love to enjoy our picnics and a dip in the clear water there is a whole new set of damselflies and dragonflies that are not found in the hot open places. Many of the damselflies found here are beautifully coloured, with magnificent metallic blue, green and black and other really cool colours. Look closely in the small bushes on the river banks and on the rocks and debris in the water itself. You will surely find some really interesting odonates.

Rhinocypha humeralis is one of the blue-coloured species, the males is painted in bright sky blue on black from his "face"and eyes to the tip of his abdomen, the basal two-thirds of both his wing are clear while the remaining third tip is black. His mate is less brightly hued and looks a little faded compared to the male, her wings are similarly coloured but the black tip is smaller than that of the male.

Saturday 17 November 2007

Pseudagrion microcephalum

Species Name: Pseudagrion microcephalum
Family: Coenagrionidae

This is one of the species of blue-coloured damselflies that are very common in drains, lily ponds and large open swamps or lakes. They are about twice a large as Agriocnemis femina and are often seen mating and ovipositing in the afternoon. The male remained paired with the female while she lays her eggs onto water weeds.

The colour of the male is blue with black stripes on its thorax and the abdomen is mainly black with a blue tip. Females are olive green, pale blue and black.

Agriocnemis femina

Species Name: Agriocnemis femina
Family: Coenagrionidae

Look in the grass beside drains and ponds in open areas near your house or in the paddy fields and you will almost surely find this species of damselfly. You have to look closely as they are really small and because their colour changes with age and the sexes are different in colour, they are a bit confusing and difficult to identify properly. Furthermore many small damselflies look very similar so it’s really hard for us non-experts to confirm the species.

Young males are green and black in colour with the tip of the abdomen (“tail”) orange, but as they grow older they become darker and the thorax becomes covered with a white growth called pruinescence and the orange at tip of its abdomen fades. So with naked eye they look little white bodied insects with dark “tails”.

Immature females on the other hand are bright red which turn olive greenish with dark brown markings.

I used to think they were four different species!

Saturday 10 November 2007

Rhyothemis phyllis

Species Name: Rhyothemis phyllis
Family: Libellulidae

This is another common species that is readily recognizable because of its beautiful markings in the base of its hindwings. They are usually found flying, fluttering a little like butterflies do, to and fro in large numbers on open spaces catching small insects. However, they can sometimes be seen perched singly on plants near ponds and drains where they breed.

It is another widespread species, ranging all across Asia from India, China, Japan to SE Asia down to Australia. One of their common English names is Yellow-striped Flutterer. Both male and female are similarly marked.

I find its markings rather nice and use it to make this design:

Sunday 4 November 2007

Orthetrum sabina

Species Name: Orthetrum sabina
Family: Libellulidae

Most people in Sabah would have seen this very common dragonfly in the compound of houses and buildings both in rural areas as well as in towns, in gardens and parks, on the roadside, near drains and ponds. It is definitely one of the dragonflies that I had played with in my childhood!

It is in fact a very wide-spread species that occurs from North Africa, through the Middle East, India and Sri Lanka to Southeast Asia, to China and Japan, through Indonesia to Australia and Oceania.

This dragonfly's distinctive yellowish-green colour with black markings and a slender abdomen or "tail" make it very recognizable and cannot be mistaken for any other dragonfly of this size. It breeds in drains, shallow ponds and even muddy pools of water. Its common name is the Slender Skimmer.