Tuesday, December 14, 2010

6. Vestalis gracilis gracilis (Rambur, 1842)

Number: 6
Family: Calopterygidae
Genus: Vestalis
Species: Vestalis gracilis gracilis
Common name(s): Clear-winged Forest Glory
Thai name(s): แมลงปอเข็มน้ำตกใหญ่ธรรมดา, แมลงปอเข็มน้ำตกเขียวท้องดำแมลงปอเข็มน้ำตกใหญ่ปีกน้ำตาล
Habitat: Forested rivers, though scarcer in the south.
Province(s) sighted: Phu Wiang NP (Khon Kaen); widespread (Chiang Mai), Chiang Rai, Khao Kitchacut NP (Chantaburi); Pang Sida NP (Sa Kaew); Khao Yai (Nakhorn Ratchasima); Koh Chang; Nam Nao environs (Petchabun); Phu Ruea environs (Loei).
Sightings (by me): Very common
In flight (that I know of): March-November (probably all-year)
Easily confused with: None (all others are clear-winged)

A large and graceful damselfly is Vestalis gracilis gracilis. Being large, it flies a little bit clumsily and tends to crash land on leaves and branches much smaller than itself, but looks really beautiful. It is the most common of the Vestalis species. It lives near slow moving water under lots of forest coverage.

The male
The male is a metallic green colour which can vary slightly from what I have seen. There are slight yellow/white markings to the thorax and has a long, slim abdomen. The wings also have a slight brown tint to them. Ironic, really, as its common name is Clear-winged Forest Glory and is the only one in the genus to have colouration to the wings!

Old male ...
this male has become pruinosed on its underside. This specimen I saw at a small stream just outside Phu Ruea NP.

The female
The female is almost identical to the male, but has a stouter abdomen and has very prominent caudal appendages.


Vestalis gracilis gracilis is a common damselfly and I have seen it at numerous places between March and November, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khao Kitchacut NP, Khao Yai, Koh Chang, Nam Nao environs and even Khon Kaen! Males and females co-habit together happily. However, I visited Pang Sida NP (Sa Kaew) in November and there were hundreds of them about 50 metres away from the river. Every time I moved another dropped down in front of me. The bad news is that they love very dark places, such as under bridges and heavy tree-lined cover. This made photography without flash very difficult. With flash, it can really alter their appearance. I did manage to coax a few males and females out of their dark hiding places into an area with a little more natural light. The above photos are in natural light and are not cropped, demonstrating just how co-operative they can be.  I'm really happy with the results.

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