Tuesday, December 14, 2010

3. Lestes elatus (Hagen in Selys, 1862)

Number: 3
Family: Lestidae
Genus: Lestes
Species: Lestes elatus
Common name(s): Emerald Spreadwing; White-tipped Spreadwing
Synonyms: N/A
Thai name(s): แมลงปอเข็มป่าสีฟ้าปลายขาว, แมลงปอเข็มปีกกางสีน้ำตาล
Habitat: Both Upland and lowland ponds (and remote, baron landscape)
Province(s) sighted: Widespread (Khon Kaen), Nam Nao environs (Petchabun), Phu Rua NP (Loei); Khao Yai NP (Nakhorn Ratchasima)
Sightings (by me): Fairly Common
In flight (from what I have seen): Year-round (they seem scarce February-May)

Lestes elatus... the damselfly that got me into chasing these little things around the country to get photos. I saw one in my back garden and just thought it looked amazing. This is a large-sized damselfly and, although quite clumsy in landing, can disappear quickly, making photography difficult.
I initially thought this was a lowlands dweller (it resides in Khon Kaen, which is extremely flat), but I have since spotted this species at Nam Nao environs (approx. 1000 metres above sea level) and a small pond at Phu Rua NP, Loei province (again up to 1000 metres up). So, it is a species that is highly adaptable.

The male
This is a mature male, which is a striking blue. The markings on the thorax make it easy to identify.

Mid-stage male
Shows the distinctive thoracic markings clearly. This male will eventually turn blue, like the male. 

Up close and personal
Shows the distinctive thoracic markings on a mid-stage male. 

Teneral male
Here is a teneral male. It clearly has a blue tinge to the wings. Something I have only seen on specimens I saw at Phu Rua National Park, Loei.

The female
Very similar to the young male, but has slightly different markings and colours and the abdomen is slightly thicker.

An unfortunate ending...
This female was snaffled by a rather ugly spider and met an abrupt ending.

The teneral female
These females really are 'fresh'. This female still has closed wings (top) and the blue tinge can clearly be seen. Looks very much like Indolestes I think! They will open out in time (as specimen 2). They, too, have a blue tinge to the wings, like the male counterparts at Phu Rua NP. I can only assume that the blue colouration fades with time.

A mature female
This is a fully mature female. It is slightly darker in appearance than the above female.

A copula...
This is a fully mature male (blue), with a fully mature female. I have seen many specimens of this species, but never a blue female. Personally, I don't think it turns blue. I think this is as close as you get to the adult female (see close-up). It's a greeny colour, with a slight blue tinge. The eyes are also slightly blue in colour.

Close up of the male's clapers in action...

This species I have spotted many times in Khon Kaen, north eastern Thailand, where I have been living for the past seven years. I have seen it throughout the year. It tends to stay far away from water, although I did spot two blue males near a swampy area when I visited Nam Phong National Park (near Khon Kaen). I have since seen a good number of males and a copula at a tiny pond by the roadside, Nam Nao town and Phu Rua NP, Loei, both uplands ponds.