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Tetracanthagyna plagiata (Waterhouse, 1877)

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Tetracanthagyna plagiata
Common Name: Giant Hawker

 

T. plagiata was one of my wish list of rare dragonflies that I hope to see in the nature reserves. Although I have managed to capture a glimpse of it a couple of times in the nature reserves, I just couldn’t managed to captured it with my camera.

It was not until 30th March 2014, when I have a close encountered with this rare species at the most unexpected place in the North Western part of Singapore.

Quoted from the book of Dragonflies of Singapore by Mr. Tang, T.plagiata is rarely seen in Singapore. The oldest record dates back to the end of 19th century or the first few years of the 20th century. In the 1990s, it was observed in Nee Soon Swamp Forest. Other known sites where it was seen include Venue Drive near MacRitchie Reservoir, and Upper Pierce Reservoir.

I was at a small stream at a location outside the Central Catchment Nature Reserve when I encountered this female giant hawker. She was flying continuously along the stream looking for suitable spots to lay her eggs.

When I first seen her, she was ovipositing on the fallen wood besides the stream.
When I first seen her, she was ovipositing on the fallen wood besides the stream.
Moving a bit closer, she was still at the same spot.
Moving a bit closer, she was still at the same spot.
Moving in more closer, finally, I have a close-up view of this rare giant hawker. She was trying to lay her eggs continuously over a small area.
Moving in more closer, finally, I have a close-up view of this rare giant hawker. She was trying to lay her eggs continuously over a small area.
After a few rounds of ovipositing, she flew to a slightly dense vegetation and rest on a small branch not far from the stream.
After a few rounds of ovipositing, she flew to a slightly dense vegetation and rest on a small branch not far from the stream.
She flew down to the stream and rest on a vertical branch very near to the stream. On the edge of the stream, I managed to take this close-up shot.
She flew down to the stream and rest on a vertical branch very near to the stream. On the edge of the stream, I managed to take this close-up shot.
After enough resting, she moved to another spot and continue laying her eggs. She did this many times.
After enough resting, she moved to another spot and continue laying her eggs.
She did this many times.

The general appearance of this species is a very big black dragonfly with huge wings. The wing-span of a female could be up to 165mm accordingly to the book of dragonflies of Singapore. The head is reddish brown. The thorax is entirely dark. The side of the thorax has broad pale lateral bands. The abdomen is reddish brown cylindrical and tapering to the tip. There is black transverse patches near the wing tips.

I am glad that this species of largest dragonfly of South East Asia is surviving well in our small island. I hope they will continue to thrive in our nature reserves.

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