Wednesday, April 27, 2011

121. Dysphaea gloriosa (Fraser, 1938)

Number: 121
Family: Euphaeidae
Genus: Dysphaea 
Species: Dysphaea gloriosa
Common name(s): N/A
Thai name(s): N/A
Habitat: Exposed, but tree-lined streams (uplands & lowlands)
Location(s): Khao Yai NP (Nakhon Ratchasima) Below Nam Nao NP (Petchabun); Phu Ruea (Loei).
Sightings (by me): Uncommon
In flight (that I have seen): April-July (longer, I'm sure)

A species that confused me so much was Dysphaea gloriosa. It looks so much like Euphaea ochracea, it is unbelievable. But when I saw it fly, it looks so different and thought that it must be a new species. It is bigger, the wings are solid ochre and it flies completely differently (the wings tend to move in a circular motion). The caudal appendages are much longer too. I sent photos to Noppadon Makbun and he confirmed that it was Dysphaea gloriosa... so a new species for me! 

Anyway, it taught me a lesson. If you see a damselfly that looks slightly different... take lots of photos as it might be a new species!

Here he is in a more natural position. They tend to 'hug' whatever they land on (large logs, mostly)...

Male, in the hand... 
This shows how much larger it is than E. ochracea

Another male.... 
but a slightly dead one! This I picked out of a spider's web at a river just below Nam Nao NP. Obviously the ants had got to it, hence no head. I saw two other males present here, but just as I was nearing them the heavens opened and they rapidly disappeared. 

The female ???
When I visited a small stream near a resort I was staying at recently (8/7/12), I noticed a number of males. Very early the following morning I noticed a newly emerged female. Unfortunately, Euphaea masoni was also present. However, I have seen a number of females of that species and this one seemed larger. I could be wrong, though. Can anyone shed light on the matter? I know identifying teneral specimens can be very tough.

I saw several specimens of this species at Khao Yai National Park and I am hoping to return soon to spot an adult female. It's a truly amazing damselfly.

120. Hydrobasileus croceus (Brauer, 1867)

Number: 120
Family: Libellulidae
Genus:  Hydrobasileus
Species:  Hydrobasileus croceus
Common name(s): Amber-winged Glider, Zigzag Glider, Water Monarch
Thai name(s): แมลงปอบ้านชายปีกทอง
Habitat: Exposed ponds and lakes (uplands)
Location(s): Khao Yai National Park (22/04/2011) and Nam Nao environs (July-August 2011)
Sightings (by me): Not common but not uncommon, but impossible to see one that has landed.
In flight (that I have seen): July-August (longer, I'm sure)

A large dragonfly I saw battling right in the middle of a natural pond at Khao Yai National Park, was Hydrobasileus croceus. There were two males and a female, which never seemed to land. Instead carried out a number of threat displays, probably because the female was full of eggs (they look bright yellow/green at the end of the female's abdomen (dragonfly closest to the bottom of the picture). Only 1 male seemed to land and that was at an inaccessible tree on the other side of the pond (just my luck!). However, though quite small this image is good enough to identify the species, especially the male top left. They were amazing to watch and were extremely loud when they collided with each other. I hope to spot one in the resting position one day for better quality pictures.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

119. Tramea transmarina euryale (Brauer, 1867)

Number: 119
Family: Libellulidae
Genus:  Tramea
Species:  Tramea transmarina euryale
Common name(s): Ocean Glider, Saddlebag Glider
Thai name(s): แมลงปอบ้านใหญ่เปลี่ยน
Habitat: Exposed (yet tree-lined), upland natural ponds
Location(s): Khao Yai National Park (22/04/2011), Phu Man NP (Khon Kaen)
Sightings (by me): Uncommon (There were 4 males @ Khao Yai)
In flight (that I have seen): April (longer, I'm sure)

Another species I saw alongside Indothemis limbata limbata, was Tramea transmarina euryale. There were 4-5 males constantly patrolling the edges of the pond. I watched them for about 30 minutes and almost gave up on waiting for one land to take photos. However, my luck was in and a male landed in the bushes behind me, just while there was enough light left. Once it had landed, it wasn't easily frightened and both photos below are uncropped, using a 300 mm lens.

The male
It's similar in size and shape (including the long legs) of Trithemis pallidinervis. The thorax is brown and the abdomen is a strong red, with prominent dorsal marks on S8-9. The caudal appendages are black and very long. There is also red colouration to the base of the wings.

118. Rhyothemis plutonia (Selys, 1883)

Number: 118
Family: Libellulidae
Genus:  Rhyothemis
Species:  Rhyothemis plutonia
Common name(s): Greater Blue Wing
Thai name(s): แมลงปอบ้านไร่ปลายใส
Habitat: Exposed shallow, weedy marshland (warm water), ponds and lakes (mostly mid- uplands)
Province(s) sighted: Phu Wiang NP & environs (Khon Kaen); Nam Nao NP/environs (Petchabun);  Khao Yai (Nakhorn Ratchasima); Phu Ruea environs (Loei).
Sightings (by me): Fairly common
In flight (that I have seen): April-July

FINALLY! I managed to capture photos of this species. I had seen a solitary male twice before, but they continually flew high above the treetops giving me no hope of photographing them. Then, at a tiny pond/marshy area with warm water, I saw two males fighting each other. After each battle they would land back in the same position. They did this over and over again. Eventually, I crept down some steep banking and through the marshy area. I got it! In fact, these are completely uncropped and I was amazed how they didn't just fly away. So there it was, my 3rd species from this genus, Rhyothemis plutonia.

The male
Simply stunning is the best way to describe this species. It is almost completely black, but has sparkling metallic green and pink/orange colouration to the wings, which gives it its name.

These are the best natural photos I have managed so far. 

This one I caught recently at Nam Nao... it had just been in a battle with another male, hence the damaged wing. 

The female ...
At long, long last I have managed to get good photos of the female when I visited a stream at Phu Ruea environs (7/6/12). Unlike the few others I have seen (mostly as part of a copula that lasts for a few moments), she sat there happily, letting me get close to her. These photos are uncropped. The female is the same as the male, but the abdomen is more robust. Also, she seems to have more green colouration to her wings and no pink, though this could vary.

Since writing this blog, I have spotted many more males, especially at Phu Wiang National Park, Khon Kaen. 

117. Onychothemis testacea testacea (Laidlaw, 1902)

Number: 117
Family: Libellulidae
Genus:  Onychothemis
Species:  Onychothemis testacea testacea
Common name(s): Riverhawker, Stellate River Hawk
Thai name(s): แมลงปอบ้านป่าวงลาย
Habitat: Forested streams, often exposed areas (mid- uplands)
Province(s) sighted: Khao Yai environs (Nakhorn Ratchasima); Phu Ruea environs (Loei)
Sightings (by me): Uncommon
In flight (that I have seen): April-July (longer, I'm sure)

At Khao Yai, I stayed at a nice resort, called Jungle House Hotel. It was good in the fact that I was about a 5 minute walk to a river, about 8 metres across and quite deep (it is used for elephant trekking as I found out). I saw a new species from the other side of the river and tried to wade across. It got too deep and I forgot that I had my macro lens in my pocket! Now I need to replace the contacts/electronic parts, which hopefully won't be so expensive. I addition, the blasted dragonfly flew away!

I returned two days later to the same spot in hope of seeing it again. Unfortunately, there were no specimens present. So I walked along the bank and noticed a really shallow part of the river (about 6 inches deep). I slowly waded through it and saw 5-6 individuals of the species I had seen earlier. They were fighting amongst themselves under a bush which overhung the river. Every now and then, one would land briefly but enough for me to take some photos. Upon my return home I discovered it to be a male Onychothemis testacea testacea.

The male
The male is a large dragonfly, distinguished by its prominent yellow bands along the abdomen and bright green eyes. For some reason, it reminds me of a classic-looking dragonfly. This male loved that stick! He would return to it over and over again and let me get really close.

116. Indothemis limbata limbata (Selys, 1891)

Number: 116
Family: Libellulidae
Genus:  Indothemis
Species:  Indothemis limbata limbata
Common name(s): Restless Demon
Thai name(s): แมลงปอบ้านอินโดดำ
Habitat: Exposed ditches, drains, ponds and lakes (uplands)
Province(s) sighted: Khao Yai (Nakhorn Ratchasima)Nam Nao NP/environs (Petchabun)
Sightings (by me): Very common at Nam Nao environs
In flight (that I have seen): February-November

On the way back from Khao Yai NP to a resort where I was staying, I noticed a natural, established pond, just inside the national park. Here I instantly saw 3 new species (for me), one of which was Indothemis limbata limbata. There were 2 males present at the water's edge. I also saw a female very briefly in flight and had no opportunity to photograph it. The female is like the male, but brown/beige in colour. Small in size, they were constantly being attacked by other species and didn't stay still for long. They perched on long stemmed grasses which jutted out over the pond and flew to another blade, the second there was any movement. Even using a 300mm lens it was hard to get near them. I did manage to capture a few photos though. Since then, I have visited Nam Nao environs and this species was very common here. I have photographed many specimens from Nam Nao.

The male
This small male is dark in colouration, with a black head/thorax and a royal blue abdomen. Caudal appendages blue also. The base of the hind wings and tips are black and the rest of the wings are royal blue. It is similar to I. carnatica, but there are a few differences.

A very early morning male (still sleeping) and extremely wet ...

Male in the hand ...

Blue nose...
This photo shows just how blue the male's face is. Looks rather nice, I think.

Sub-adult male
Here, you can see that the markings on the male's abdomen are still yellow towards the latter segments.

And on this slightly younger still specimen, more segments have yellow colouration.

The teneral male...
This male is still yellow. It will become blue/royal blue with age. This male was far back from the waterside in the bushes. When frightened, it flew straight up and into the treetops. Probably where all the females are!

The female
A very old female, with a brown thorax and blue abdomen - the only time i have seen this.

The young female
I was lucky enough to spot a young female at a large uplands pond at Khao Yai NP on my last visit. Lucky, as it was one of the only dragonflies there! 

Female, in the hand

Monday, April 25, 2011

115. Idionyx thailandica (Hämäläinen, 1985)

Number: 115
Family: Synthemistidae
Genus: Idionyx
Species: Idionyx thailandica
Common name(s): N/A
Thai name(s): แมลงปอใหญ่ไทย
Habitat: Tree-lined forested streams
Province(s) sighted: Nang Rong waterfall (Nakhon Nayok province)
Sightings (by me): Rare
In flight (that I have seen): March (longer, I'm sure)

On the way back to Khon Kaen from Kanchanaburi, I made a quick visit to Nakhon Nayok. The first two waterfalls I arrived at were completely dry (then again I shouldn't choose March to hunt for dragonflies!). Finally, I arrived at Nang Rong Waterfall, which had a decent amount of water running through it. Within 2 minutes, I spotted a small teneral male, which I thought was Tetrathemis platyptera, which I have seen numerous times before. It was only when got closer that I noticed it was something different. It was a slow mover and I was even able to catch it with my fingers, in order to take photos, before I released him safely. I looked on the Internet and thought it was Idionyx thailandica, a new species for me. This was confirmed by Noppadon Makbun.

The male
The male has distinct black and yellow legs and swirling yellow on black thoracic markings. The caudal appendages are also large in size.

A helping hand...
This photo gives a good idea of size.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

114. Unknown species

Number: 114
Family: Incertae sedis (not placed)
Genus: Unknown (poss. Burmargiolestes or Agrimorpha)
Species: Poss. Burmargiolestes sp. (similar to B. melanothorax) or Agrimorpha fusca
Common name(s): N/A
Thai name(s): Unknown
Habitat: Extremely dark, heavily forested area amongst bamboo (almost impossible to see).
Province(s) sighted: Nang Kruan waterfall, Lamklong Ngu NP (Kanchanaburi province)
Sightings (by me): Rare
In flight (that I have seen): March (longer, I'm sure)

I recently saw an extremely skittish teneral damselfly about 70 metres away from the water's edge in a darkened area, amongst bamboo. It was really difficult to spot and was only given away by the white dorsal patch on the abdomen. Again, having no idea of the species, I sent it to Noppadon Makbun and he said; "It's surely in genus Burmargiolestes.  There's only one species recorded in Thailand: B. melanothorax. It's similar to this species except pale marking on apical abdominal segment." He also said that he has never seen a teneral specimen of this species, so it is difficult to confirm. 

Recently, Noppadon has informed me that this is possibly not only a new species for Thailand, but also a new genus ... Agrimorpha fusca. If it is, that would be fantastic news. Unfortunately, as it is only a teneral specimen and you can't see the colours of the face clearly, it is difficult to tell. Hopefully, I will get the chance to return there this year and spot an adult ... who knows, it could well be a new genus for the country! Once again, many, many thanks to Noppadon for his input and invaluable information ...  if it were left to me, this post would simply say "unknown brown damselfly" :)

113. Vestalis anne (Hämäläinen, 1985)

Number: 113
Family: Calopterygidae
Genus: Vestalis
Species: Vestalis anne
Common name(s): N/A
Habitat: Forested upland streams
Location(s) sighted: Sai Yok Yai Waterfall (Kanchanaburi)
Sightings (by me): Uncommon
In flight (that I have seen): March (longer, I'm sure)

Three hyaline-winged (clear) species of the genus Vestalis are almost identical (V. amethystina, V. anne and V. amoenaand the only way to tell them apart is through the anal appendages (which is very difficult to do through photography). I had no idea how to tell from looking at the photos so made sure I took a clear photo of the terminal segments. I sent photos to Noppadon Makbun and he told me that it was Vestalis amoena. Since then, Noppadon has re-looked at my photos and now believes it to be Vestalis anne. (Proves just how difficult it is to tell them apart!) Still, another species for me! 

Patience is key to photographing this genus. Not only do they like dark areas of forest, they are also green. I often first spot this genus (mainly V. gracilis, which has brown tinted wings and is very common) by noticing the leaves or branches moving as though something has just dropped on it. Sometimes it's a damselfly! The other problem is that they are very cautious creatures and often fly away at the first sight of you. If you can stay near them without scaring them, you can slowly inch forward until you are close enough to take good photos. I believe in a way that they begin to trust you, or realise that you are not a threat. Or maybe I'm just becoming crazy!

The male
The male is less cautious than the female, but still a very wary creature. Unlike V. gracilis, the wings are clear.

The male appendages
In order to identify the species, you must get a decent photo of the appendages for accurate identification. I always use flash (with a large home-made bubble-wrap diffuser) for this purpose.

The female
The female was harder to spot than the male and tended to hide higher up in the bushes. This lady was kind enough to let me get close to her.

I think this species ranges from western Thailand moving southwards and is found along slow moving streams in good forested areas. If you find one, you should find several.