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Heliogomphus kelantanensis (Laidlaw, 1902) – Sighting of a mating pair

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Heliogomphus kelantanensis
Common Name: Malayan Grappletail

Heliogomphus kelantanensis is a rare forest inhabitant of swift flowing streams. It is endemic to Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. In Singapore, this rare species is found in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

According to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015, a male specimen has been described by Laidlaw in 1902, but the female is in a poor state to describe. The only other record of the female is by Lieftinck (1932), who described based on a larva of a female.

In May 2015, I came across two males perching on low vegetation in the deep forest of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The first male was a rather pristine young male, whilst the second male has it’s right lower wing slightly torn at the tip. The two males were perching very low near a forest stream, about 1 metre apart from each other, and were possibly waiting for a mating female.

Shortly after, a female arrived, and was immediately grabbed by the second male and they flew away to the nearly shrub while in tandem. The mating took well over ten minutes before they flew deeper into the thick vegetation and out of sight. This was the first time I have seen a mating pair.

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The first male, rather pristine. It has a uniform olive green to the sides of the thorax.
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The eyes are bluish-green. The wings are clear. Abdomen is dark and anal appendages are short.
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The synthorax is dark with pale green markings.
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It is a medium-size gomphid. Hindwing 25-26mm, body length 37mm.
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The second male. Right lower wing slightly torn at the tip.
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A young male, which could have emerged about the same time as the first male.
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Dorsal view of the second male.
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Here the torn wing is clearly visible. The damaged wing could be due to fighting with rival male.

I have seen the female of this species only once in June 2013 in the Nature Reserve. Female has similar markings as the male.

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A female in dorsal view. A bit duller but otherwise, thoracic markings similar to the male.
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The lower pair of wings is rounder. Abdomen is slightly thicker.
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The sides of the thorax is yellowish-green. There is a series of yellow markings to the sides of the abdomen.
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The mating pair as described earlier. The mating male is the second male with the torn wing.
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Brachythemis contaminata (Fabricius, 1793)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Brachythemis contaminata
Common Name: Common Amberwing

Brachythemis contaminata is a common species in Singapore. It can be found in many places in Singapore such as open ponds, reservoirs, both in urban areas as well as nature reserves. I have come into contact this species at Toa Payoh Town Park, Singapore Botanic Garden, Gardens by the Bay, and Kranji Reservoir.

Adult males has wings that are tinted with deep amber and have orange veins and pterostigmata. The abdomen is in deep orange. Immature male is light brown with yellowish pterostigmata. Female is very similar to the immature male. It has wings that are clear, and yellowish brown thorax and abdomen.

This species can tolerate a certain amount of polluted waters. They are a sun-loving species which are active all day until after sunset.

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Adult male
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Immature male
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Immature male
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Immature male
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Female
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Female
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Lestes praemorsus decipiens Kirby, 1894

Family: Lestidae (Spreadwings)
Scientific Name: Lestes praemorsus decipiens
Common Name: Crenulated Spreadwing

Lestes praemorsus decipiens is a member of the Lestidae family. A common name for this species is Crenulated Spreadwing.

This species is uncommon and can be found at large water bodies such as reservoirs and large ponds and wetland marshes. In Singapore, I have seen this species at MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit Timah Nature Reserves.

The male has powdery light blue thorax with dark spots. The abdomen is dark and shaped like a hockey stick. Aged males are heavily pruinosed.

They typically rest with their wings at an angle away from their bodies and half open. They usually perch on vertical stems of water plants with their abdomen hanging downwards.

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A male Crenulated Spreadwing. The eyes and body are powdery blue colour with black markings.
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A mating pair. The female here is ovipositing her eggs onto plant tissue with the male in contact guarding.
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Dorsal view of the pair. The head of the female is partially submerged in water.
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The anal appendages of the female submerged in water is clearly visible.
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Male in frontal view.
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Lateral view of the male. Notice the half-opened wings and the dark slender abdomen with the hockey-shaped appearance.
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Another pair of Lestes praemorsus. The female is duller in appearance.
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The second pair in dorsal view. The female has similar markings as the male and is more greenish in colour.
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An aged and pruinosed male taken at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. My only encounter of this species at that region. It was found at a small drainage enclosure.
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Orchithemis pulcherrima Brauer, 1878 (Red Form, Male & Female)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Orchithemis pulcherrima
Common Name: Variable Sentinel

Orchithemis pulcherrima is a common dragonfly which inhabits swampy forests within the nature reserves. It can be found usually under heavily shaded forest reserves in MacRitchie Reservoir, Upper Pierce Reservoir, Upper Seletar Reservoir, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and many other forested reserves.

This is a narrow winged species. The abdomen is broad and tapers towards the tip. Male has two colour forms. Red form with and without white markings and dark form with pale markings near it’s base. The genitalia on the ventral side of segment 2 of the male is very prominent.

This is the red form without white markings which is very common.

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This male individual has a yellowish thorax which is quite distinct.

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This male has a dark reddish abdomen with white markings at base of abdomen. This form is not normally seen.

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Female with red abdomen is rare. I have seen this female form only three times in Singapore.

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Camacinia gigantea (Brauer, 1867)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Camacinia gigantea
Common Name: Sultan

Camacinia gigantea is a large and rare dragonfly which inhabits large ponds, lakes and reservoirs. Although rare, it can be quite common locally especially near edges of forest reserves. I have seen this species at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Chestnut Avenue Forests, Mandai Forests.

This is possibly the largest dragonfly in the Libellulidae family.

The male has a dark red thorax, abdomen, and the red patches also cover about 2/3 of the wings. It is not uncommon to see several males fly rapidly over stagnant ponds or forest pools, often engage in territorial fight. They prefer to hang vertically at their favourite perch and ward off intruders.

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Matured male -1
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Matured male -2
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Maturing male – some yellow patches can still be seen on the wings.
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Young male with brilliant red.
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Immature males are yellowish in colour.
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Dorsal view – note the pattern on the male’s wings.

Female is slightly stouter and larger than the male. The wings and body are pale brownish in colour. Aged female can appear to be dark red as in males. Female is rarer and often not sighted. They appear only when mating and ovipositing.

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At a glance, this female appear to look like a male. However, the abdomen is thicker and the female anal appendages is clearly seen.
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Another female. Note the slightly yellowish on the red patches wings.
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Aged female with brownish thorax, and reddish wings.

I used to see this species at a drainage concrete structure at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. However, the sighting of this species is less common now after the vegetation was cleared from the water-logged structure.