Heliaeschna crassa Krüger, 1899

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Heliaeschna crassa
Common Name: Nighthawker

Another very rare hawker species that can be found in Singapore, H. crassa inhabit swampy forests and are crepuscular in it’s natural habitat.

This was my 3rd sighting of this species, at the dense under-story of Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Compare to H. uninervulata and other Gynacantha Sp., H. crassa is far more elusive and also sensitive even to the slightest movements.

I am only able to capture a glimpse of this individual and a few shots before it disappear into the surrounding vegetation.

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H.crassa -male. perching on a plant’s stem about 1.5 metre above the ground.
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An older male with part of it’s upper right wing missing.
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Unlike H.idae, H.crassa has it’s anal appendages slightly recurved.

Female of either H. crassa or H. idae has been photographed before in Singapore but I have yet to encounter any female species.

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Heliaeschna uninervulata (F) Martin, 1909

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Heliaeschna uninervulata
Common Name: Lesser Night Hawker

Heliaeschna uninervulata aka lesser Nighthawker in the local context is considered to be very rare in Singapore. I have sighted this species a couple of times especially at the Central Catchment Nature Reserves.

The current female species is sighted outside the nature reserve at a place I frequently explore for Gynacantha sp. such a G.basiguttata and G.dohrni. I am quite surprise to find this species over there as my impression is that this species prefers pristine forest with running streams nearby.

Nevertheless I am more than happy to have captured this species again – my third female’s encountered.

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At a glance the female is considered to be quite small in size, compared to H.crassa.
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The wings are clear and the appendages are still intact.
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Abdomen is dark brownish with dark flecks and patches.
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Notice the very striking greenish yellow eyes and olive green thorax.
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Here the single crossvein at the base of the wing median space can be seen.
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The visibly astonishing yellowish lower eyes and nice greenish thorax coloration is amazing.
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A glimpse of the female reproductive organs.

I believe this species is quite widely distributed in Singapore as I had bumped into this species at no less than five occasions, all at different locations. The Central Catchment Nature Reserve is the best place to observe this species.

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Oligoaeschna amata (female) & O.foliacea (male)

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Oligoaeschna amata – female (Fӧrster, 1903) & Oligoaeschna foliacea – male (Lieftinck, 1968)
Common Name: Paddle-tail

On 25th September 2016, I was at the Central Catchment Nature Reserves and in the dense undergrowth of the thick vegetation, I found a male O. foliacea & a female O.amata.

These species are supposed to be very rare and only appeared in certain months of the year.

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Female O.amata.
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Side profile of the female.
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Another angle of the same female.
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Male O. foliacea. Both male O. foliacea and amata are very similar. It can be separated by the shape of it’s anal appendages.
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This should be a younger male.
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Side profile view.
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Heliaeschna crassa Krüger, 1899

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Heliaeschna crassa
Common Name: Nighthawker

Heliaeschna crassa is very rare in Singapore. It inhabit swampy forests and are crepuscular. So far, I have bumped into this species only twice over the span of 5 years of my dragonfly hunting. Once in the forest near Upper Pierce Reservoir, and this one, near Chestnut forest. On both occasions, it’s appearance was caused by my unintentional disturbance while I was walking along the forest trail. My observation of this species is that it tends to be very sensitive to any movements in the surroundings. Once it flies off, it will never come back again. Also, it tends to perch quite low in the dense vegetation.

This is a pretty large species. The eyes of the male are bottle green. The thorax is green and somewhat flatten with greenish transverse flecks and the abdomen of this one is black, probably indicating this is an older male. It has 4-5 crossveins in the median space at the base of the wings.

The top of the frons is black w/o a T-mark. The wings are brownish tinted.

The most unique feature of this species is it’s anal appendages. The male superior appendages is thin and long with a somewhat swollen recurved tip pointing outward. The inferior appendage is very short and slightly recurved.

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This old male was taken in the chestnut forest in July 2016.
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A closer look at it’s appendages. Do you think it’s a H.crassa or H.idae?

This species is definitely one of the rarest species of dragonfly in Singapore. Unfortunately, I only managed to take a couple of shots before this male shoot off and disappeared into the forests.

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Oligoaeschna amata (Fӧrster, 1903) – female Paddletail –

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Oligoaeschna amata (Fӧrster, 1903)
Common Name: Paddle-tail

Female O.amata is considered to be rare in Singapore. This species can only be found at a few localised areas in the Central Catchment Nature Reserves. Although rare, this species may appear in numbers, both males and females during the breeding seasons. During the day, it hides in the deep undergrowth in the secondary forests, and forages during dusk and dawn. I have seen female species of both O.amata and O.foliacea occurs during the breeding seasons.

This species normally rest on leaves or twig just above an observer’s eyes level. It prefers heavily shaded forests where it rests during the day. It is quite easy to approach this species if it is left undisturbed, although taking photograph in the dim environment may pose a challenge.

Of all the Aeshnide species of dragonfly that can be found in Singapore, this is amongst the most brilliantly coloured species.

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Female O. amata. It has green eyes and green markings on the thorax and abdomen.
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Side view – same individual. Notice the stripes on the thorax.
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Ventral view. The two racket-like appendages is intact.
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Another female individual. The wings are almost fully tinted in brown.
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Third female individual. This female has a brilliant pink-coloured thorax and orange abdomen with green markings. It has yellowish legs.
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Another dorsal view. Notice the tinted wings and paddle-tail.
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A glimpse at the under-side of the abdomen, which is more paler.
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Female’s ovipositor can be observed here.
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Hey!! “What are you looking at??”
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Gynacantha subinterrupta Rambur, 1842 – Matured male

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Gynacantha subinterrupta
Common Name: Dingy Duskhawker

Gynacantha subinterrupta is an uncommon Aeshnidae species of dragonfly. Fairly large and hide in the deep undergrowth of the forest during the day. Venture out at dawn and dusk, feeding on small insects.

In Singapore, I have seen this species at Bukit Timah nature reserve, Dairy Farm nature reserve, Upper Pierce Reservoir and the forest at Mandai.

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A matured male. The pale bluish-green eyes are very attractive.
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Ventral side. Notice the blue and green markings on the thorax and abdomen.
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A rare glimpse of the male in flight.
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Lateral view.
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Hiding underneath a tree trunk.

In my opinion, amongst all the species of Aeshnidae dragonfly in Singapore, this species is the most colourful.

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Gynacantha subinterrupta – female ovipositing!!

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Gynacantha subinterrupta
Common Name: Dingy Duskhawker

This female Gynacantha subinterrupta oviposits by touching the surface of a substrate, in this case, soil and lay her eggs and flying to another spot repeating the same action.

See the female in Action!

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The forest floor is littered with fallen leaves, seeds, tree trunk and branches. A great spot for the female to lay her eggs. The whole place will be flooded when the rain comes.
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A side profile of her in action.
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The shot is taken under very dim lighting. She chose a spot underneath a fallen tree trunk.
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Curling up her abdomen and oviposits into the soil substrate.

 

She did her egg’s laying all by herself. No male is seen guarding her when she oviposits. This place is flooded the next day after a torrential rain.

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Gynacantha basiguttata Selys, 1882 – A Male Galore!

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Gynacantha basiguttata Selys,1882
Common Name: Spoon-tailed Duskhawker

Gynacantha basiguttata is a large forest-dwelling species of dragonfly which is rarely seen in Singapore. During the recent dry spell, I have encountered at least four males guarding their own territory in the dry forest pool. Each male perched on their favourite spot which overlook it’s territory. When there is intrusion of the same species male, the territory male will drive away the intruder and return to it’s favourite perch.

The male will stay in their territories for days in anticipation for the arrival of the female. Sometimes very close and violent contact among males do occurred where the sound of wings clasping could be heard.

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Male no.1 – resting under a fallen tree trunk.
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Male no. 1 – dorsal view. Notice the mud stricken abdomen.
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Lateral view.
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Male no.2 – A slightly young individual.
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Full Dorsal View.
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Male no.3 – Matured male with slightly worn wings.
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Male no.4 – Young and “fresh” male individual. Wings are clear.
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A close lateral view – showing great details of the head and thorax.
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Another dorsal shot.

This time round I did not notice any females around, although I have seen female of another hawker species, Gynacantha dohrni. When female arrives, they will mate with the male and then proceed to lay their eggs in the forest floor, before the rain arrives and flooded the forest floor.

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Oligoaeschna foliacea Lieftinck, 1968 – Stunning Adult Male!

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Oligoaeschna foliacea Lieftinck 1968
Common Name: Leaftail

Oligoaeschna foliacea is one species of Aeshnidae that is seldom seen by the dragonfly enthusiast as not only it is rare, but also it is crepuscular, which means it is active during dawn and dusk. During the day, it rests deep in the wooded swampy forests, normally hanging vertically on leaf or twig just above an observer’s eye level.

During one of my usual dragonfly trip to the North-Western part of Singapore’s nature reserve, I have the chance to witness a splendid male in it’s full adult coloration.

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Even from far, this species stands out. Look at it’s green eyes and striking green markings on it’s thorax and abdomen. It curls it’s abdomen up, probably in preparation for mating.
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Hanging vertically on twig in the heavily shaded forest’s undergrowth. It is waiting to mate with the females which are probably nearby.
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A medium size Aeshnidae speies. Total body length is about 60mm, which is slightly smaller than the more common G.dohrni and G.subinterrupta. Very striking green eyes and thorax and abdomen are black with strong green markings.
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Dorsal view showing the splendid green and black dragonfly. The wings are slightly tinted with pale amber. Notice it has only three cells in the discoidal triangle on both wings.
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Here the anal appendages is shown. The superior appendages is leaf-shape like, and inferior appendage is longer than that of O.amata.
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In A.G.Orr’s book of dragonflies of P.Malaysia and Singapore, it is said that the striking green markings is easily lost in preserved specimens. To appreciate it’s full coloration, it is best view via a life specimen.
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Lateral view of the male. Notice the side of the thorax which is green with black stripe.

This is one of the most stunning species of dragonflies in my opinion. We are lucky that it can still be seen in Singapore. Wish that this species can continue to thrive in our nature reserves.

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Oligoaeschna foliacea Lieftinck, 1968

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Oligoaeschna foliacea Lieftinck 1968
Common Name: Leaftail

Oligoaeschna foliacea is a very rare species of dragonfly which inhabit wooded swampy forests in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. It is crepuscular where it rests in the forests during the day, and forages for insects during dusk and dawn. This species like to rest vertically on twigs or leaves, generally slightly above an observer’s eye-level.

The male is rather rare but may appear in numbers during the breeding seasons. It can be told apart from the similar O. amata by the shape of it’s anal appendages. It’s superior appendages has a leaf-like profile view and it’s inferior appendage is longer than that of O.amata.

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This is an older male. The thorax and abdomen is dark reddish brown. The superior appendages is moderately long, robust and leaf-like in profile view.
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The wings are uniformly covered in amber-brown. Eyes are dark green in young individuals.
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Lateral view with green markings on it’s thorax and abdomen.
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The leaf-like anal appendages can be viewed here.

The best time to observe this species is in September to October in the Central Nature Reserve.