Saturday, April 23, 2011

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.