Sunday 7 December 2008

Camacinia gigantea


Species Name: Camacinia gigantea

Family: Libellulidae

At first glance you would think that this is a huge Neurothemis because of the dark red colours on the body and wings of the male. Females are much paler in colour with fainter and less extensive markings on the wings. In size it is the largest of the Libellulid family.

Male flying across pond

This species is said to be quite widespread in the Indo-Australian tropics but are quite rarely encountered. However I’m quite lucky to have these insects breeding in a pond (which I’ve mentally named the Camacinia Pond ;)) in the plantation where I work. There are Camacinia at this pond at almost any time! Sometimes there will be several males patrolling it and perching on the side. Sometimes a female would be present and the males would be busy pursuing her and fighting with each other!

Female at rest

Found in lowland at ponds and lakes in open areas and near coast along mangroves.

Pantala flavescens


Species Name: Pantala flavescens
Family: Libellulidae

Pantala flavescens is certainly the world’s most widely distributed dragonfly – found worldwide in the tropics as well as in temperate zones of North America and Europe. It’s the only odonate that Borneo shares with the United Kingdom where it is found as a rare vagrant. For this reason, and because it had even been known to land on ships far out at sea, its common name is the Globe Skimmer or Wandering Glider.

The colour of the thorax and abdomen of both sexes is orangish to light brown with clear wings, the small dark area on the tip of the hindwing is distinctive. They can be seen flying almost anywhere in open country, sometimes in great numbers, they rarely perch. They breed in standing or slow moving water, so rice paddies in the tropics are particularly suitable habitats.

Male Globe Skimmer on my finger

As these insects are almost perpetually on the wing, I have not been able to take a good photo of them in nature. I was however lucky to find one on the ground – which I picked up and photographed perched on my finger.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Agrionoptera insignis

Species Name: Agrionoptera insignis
Family: Libellulidae

A small dragonfly of lowland forest swamp and sluggish streams, also found in shaded drains in plantations and disturbed areas. Its thin red (in the male, the female is more dull orange) abdomen with a swollen base would serve to identify it from several similarly coloured species. The synthorax is metallic blue with yellow markings in both sexes, duller in the female. It is usually seen perched on water side vegetation.
The species is widespread in tropical Asia and Australasia with several sub-species recognised. The Bornean ssp is insignis. In Australia its common name is the Red Swampdragon.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Acisoma panorpoides

Species Name: Acisoma panorpoides
Family: Libellulidae
At first glance this small species looks like Diplacodes travialis even the males and females in both species are similarly coloured blue and pale greenish yellow respectly. However look closer and you'll see that their abdomens look "pregnant", bulging at the base and thin at the tail end. This unique shape gives it the common name the Pintail.

Acisoma panorpoides is a very widespread Libellulid being recorded
from South Africa and Madagascar to the Mediterranean, into
mainland Asia and Southeast Asia.

Previously thought to be absent from the northern part Borneo, I had
photographed it in Lahad Datu, Sabah as well as Tuaran, near Kota
Kinabalu where I found it to be very common near paddy fields.

Saturday 11 October 2008

Diplacodes trivalis

Species Name: Diplacodes trivalis
Family: Libellulidae
Mature Male
This small dragonfly is in my opinion the commonest species in open places and drains and other disturbed areas. They can be found far from water in the lowlands as well as higher altitudes. The males are pruinose blue with black markings, while females and immature males are pale green. Looking somewhat like mini Orthetrum sabina they usually perch on the ground or on low grass.
Female Chalky Percher
This species is commonly called the Chalky Percher or Ground Skimmer and is very widespread in tropical Asia and Australiasia.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Orthetrum pruinosum

Species Name:
 Orthetrum pruinosum
Family: Libellulidae

Dragonflies of the genus Orthetrum are mostly thick-bodied medium to large-sized red or blue coloured in males and brownish in females. The only exception is O. sabina which is greenish yellow and black-coloured in both male and female and has a very slender abdomen.   

Of the blue/red Orthetrum, perhaps the most beautifully coloured is O. pruinosum the male of which has a deep red abdomen and a powder (or pruinose) blue thorax and basal segments of the abdomen. It is common near slow flowing as well fast flowing streams hillside streams from the lowland up to 1000m above sea level.

Range of distribution: The species is wide spread in Asia, but the sub-species schneideri of Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia is the most vividly coloured in my opinion.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Xiphiagrion cynomelas

Species Name: Xiphiagrion cynomelas
Family: Coenagrionidae

This is another species of blue-coloured damselflies that are common in drains, lily ponds and stagnant bodies of water. They resemble Pseudagrion microcephalum but are smaller and both these species often share the same ponds. As with the latter species the male remained paired with the female while she lays her eggs onto water weeds and many pairs can be seen ovipositing en masse.

The male is blue on the sides of its thorax and black dorsally with two blue spots just behind the head, the abdomen is black tipped with blue. Females are similarly marked but dark olive instead of black as in the male. this dark area also lack blue spots.

Distribution: Borneo, Philippines, Indonesia.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Macrodiplax cora

Species Name:
Macrodiplax cora
Family: Libellulidae

I first photographed a single male of this species in August 2005 in an oil palm plantation repeatedly flying from and landing on short weeds (Top Photo). As this species was mentioned as unrecorded from Borneo in publications I was not sure about its identity until Rory Dow confirmed that this is M. cora when I emailed him a photo. I have since found a breeding population at a reclaimed area in the sea front in Lahad Datu town, therefore proving that they are definitely present in Borneo too.

M. cora is a medium-sized red-orange dragonfly, the sexes are similar except that the females are more orange than red. They breed in open coastal areas and in brackish, or saltish water bodies.

(Centre photo: A pair in tandem)

Distribution: Very widespread species recorded from Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines.

(Bottom photo: Female, taken in Mindanao, Philippines)

Saturday 2 August 2008

Gynacantha basiguttata

Species Name: Gynacantha basiguttata
Family: Aeshnidae

Aeshnids are mainly medium-sized to very large dragonflies with about 30 species found in Borneo, Gynacantha basiguttata being one of the most commonly met with. This family includes the largest and heaviest odonate in the world – Tetracanthagyna plagiata, which is also found in Borneo.

Like most members of this family, G. basiguttata is usually seen hawking for small insects at dawn and at dusk and is sometimes attracted to the lights in houses. During the day both sexes could be found resting in undergrowth in the forest. Members of this genus look very similar but males can usually be identified by the unique shape their anal appendages, females however are very difficult to identify to species.

Usually this species fly rather fast and the only chance of taking their photo is when they fly into buildings at night or if you are lucky enough to find the place where they take their daytime siesta! However I was lucky one evening to see one repeatedly "hovering" for periods long enough for me to focus on it and take a series of flight photos of it!

Saturday 5 July 2008

Copera vittata

Species Name: Copera vittata
Family: Platycnemidae

A common species in shaded places in the lowland – often seen in swampy forest as well as well shaded farms and plantations. The males are almost black in colour with bright greenish yellow variegated markings on synthorax and red-orange legs. Females are paler in colour and have lighter thoracic markings.

Some immatures, especially females, have very pale ivory white bodies and are known as “ghost” forms.

Photos (top): A pair in tandem.
(below): Male.
(bottom): An immature "ghost" form.

Brachydiplax chalybea

Species Name:
Brachydiplax chalybea

Family: Libellulidae
Brachydiplax chalybea is a moderate sized dragonfly commonly found in unshaded body of water, such as ponds, stagnant or slow flowing streams and drains. The males are a powder-blue in colour with hindwings that are tinted brown at the base and are often seen perched by the water and every now and then flying out to challenge any intruder that wanders into their small territory.

The females which are brownish in colour are less often seen and only appears at the water to mate and oviposite in the afternoon. This is a widespread species in tropical Asia.
Topmost photo: Male perching in "obelisk" stance. Below: Another male on guard over his territory.

Bottom photo: Female

Sunday 29 June 2008

Lestes praemorsus

Species Name: Leste praemorsus
Family: Lestidae

This is a rather unusual looking damselfly found quite commonly in shaded lowland swamps and drains. Unlike most other damselflies it usually perches in a hanging or at least slanting position (rather than horizontally) with its wings half open.The tip of the abdomen is usually bent up giving it hockey-stick appearance. In the males the eyes and body are a powder-blue colour with black markings, the female is similarly marked but duller.

The range of Leste praemorsus is recorded as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand.

Saturday 17 May 2008

Zyxomma obtusum

Species Name: Zyxomma obtusum
Family: Libellulidae
Crepuscular is a term used to describe animals that are primarily active during the twilight - at dawn and at dusk. This species is one of the few dragonflies in this family with this habit. The male Zyxomma obtusum is almost entirely white in colour (except for the dark tips of its wings) and as it suddenly appears in the dim light at dusk (or at dawn) over a pond it looks almost ghostly! Photographing it is a challenge for me and I need lots of luck - I simply focus on where I expect it to fly pass and shoot my flash gun at it, I get maybe one acceptable image out of every 20 shots!

Unlike the male the female is brown in colour with bright green eyes, I had photographed it once with the male though the image was too fuzzy to display.

The range of this species is said to be Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and of course also here in Malaysian Borneo.

Friday 11 April 2008

Prodasineura verticalis

Species Name: Prodasineura verticalis
Family: Protoneuridae
A medium-sized damselfly of clear streams, with hindwings measuring 19-20 mm and abdomen about 30 mm. The male is mostly black with bright orange stripes on its thorax and small yellow spots on the abdomen. The pterostigma or wing spot is diamond-shaped and dark brown in colour. The female is similarly coloured but her thoracic stripes are paler and more yellowish. I have seen this species in the streams near the Madai waterfall, Silam and the Tabin Wildlife Reserve all in Lahad Datu.
Males are often seen hovering over fast flowing stream when they are rather difficult to see. Oviposition takes place on vegetation, and submerged roots in shallow running water, with the pair in tandem. (See my second photo.)

The common name (in India) for members of family Protoneuridae is Bambootails and P. verticalis is the Black Bambootail. The distribution range of this species is China, India and most of Southeast Asia.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Macrogomphus quadratus

Species Name: Macrogomphus quadratus
Family: Gomphidae
As its genus name implies this is a large dragonfly with a wingspan of 100-110mm. Although said to be widespread in Borneo frequenting shallow streams in dense forest, I have only seen it once... in fact literally almost bumping into it before I saw it! Fortunately for me it did not fly away until after I was able to take some photographs of it. The similarly coloured female is said to lay her eggs in the mud on the weedy edge of shallow water without the benefit of a male guard.

The range of M. quadratus is recorded as China, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Devadatta podolestoides

Species Name: Devadatta podolestoides
Family: Amphipterygidae

Devadatta podolestoides is the only representative of this so-called primitive family of damselfly in Borneo. Their bodies are darb brown to bluish in colour with yellowish bands on the abdomen. They are found mainly in rocky forest stream in the thick undergrowth. I have found them in Poring, Ranau and at the Kiansom Waterfalls near Kota Kinabalu.

The distribution range of species is China, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, other parts of Indonesia and the Philippines.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Libellago lineata

Species Name: Libellago lineata
Family: Chlorocyphidae
I have not seen this species in Borneo yet but as I have just taken some photos of this pretty damselfly in Kelantan (Peninsular Malaysia) I decide to feature it in this post. Photos - Top : Male
Bottom: Female
This species is described as common in lowlands streams and rivers and widespread throughout Asia - from China, Taiwan, India, and throughout Southeast Asia.

The male is beautifully marked with yellow-orange and black with white-stockinged legs which it displays during its courtship dance. The female is of a paler and more greenish colour.

I found them in a fast flowing stream in a young oil palm plantation near Gua Musang in Kelantan.

Anax guttatus

Species name: Anax guttatus
Family: Aeshnidae
Anax guttatus is heavy-bodied and an unmistakable common dragonfly of open habitats that is often seen in drains, ponds and swamps. The eyes, thorax and the base of the abdomen are mainly green in colour while the 2nd and 3rd abdominal sections are bright blue and the rest of the abdomen being dark brown with lighter spots. Both sexes are similarly marked. The males are often seen "patrolling" back and fro ceaselessly along big drains and over ponds almost the whole day long and well into the early evening. The female can sometimes be seen ovipositing while clinging to floating vegetation or twigs (this one in my photo was sitting on waterlily pads) and is quite fearless when doing so, which could be quite dangerous at times as she can be quite vulnerable to predators. In fact I had seen one being attacked by a green paddy frog.

This species commonly called the Lesser Green Emperor has a very wide distribution range - from Japan, China, all of Southeast Asia to Micronesia. It is also found in Africa.

Saturday 23 February 2008

Ictinogomphus decoratus

Species Name: Ictinogomphus decoratus
Family: Gomphidae

This large dragonfly is perhaps the most commonly seen member of the family Gomphidae in its range which spreads from China, Indochina, Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia, to Indonesia, Borneo and the Philippines.

It breeds in open standing water like ponds and dams, the males are often seen perched on emergent water plants or on the water edge. Females are sometimes seen depositing their eggs in the pond, I have seen one doing so by simply dropping her eggs into the water seemingly at random and barely wetting her abdomen, with the male guarding her from a distance.

Gomphids are commonly called Clubtail Dragonflies, so this species with its yellow stripes would probably be called a Tiger Clubtail!

Thursday 7 February 2008

Hydrobasileus croceus

Species Name: Hydrobasileus croceus
Family: Libellulidae

The Amber-winged Glider is quite a common dragonfly around ponds in open areas, however they are almost always seen on the wing "sailing" to and fro non-stop. Males and females are similarly coloured and marked.

This species has a vast range all over Asia, from Japan and China to India and in the whole of Southeast Asia.

Photo above: A pair "in tandem" photographed over a pond where the female lays her eggs among the thick water weeds.

An empty larval case or exuvia
of H. croceus.