Camacinia gigantea (Brauer, 1867)

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

Camamcinia gigantea is a large dragonfly species that lives in open ponds, quarries and occasionally, forest pools.

I have observed this species many times, sometimes up to four to five individuals at the forest fringe at Bukit Timah Nature Reserves. It frequents flooded forest pools and may wander far from the water source.

It can co-habit peacefully with other smaller dragonfly species but may chase away rivals within a small territory.

The below photos are taken at a forest in the Mandai area where a small forest pools was formed after heavy rain and attracts a female and two male Sultans, a few Neurothemis fluctuans, a male Orthetrum testaceum and a male Potamarcha congener.

Two rival males perching on a twig anticipating for a female arrival
One male tries to dislodge another from his perch.
He has successfully mated with the female upon her arrival. The other rival male has to wait in despair.
Another photo of the two males perching side-by-side, one on top, and the other below.
The same couple moves to the favorite perch while in tandem.
This photo shows the smaller, but otherwise same coloration of the Neurothemis fluctuans in the background.
You can observe the difference of the two species by the pattern of the wings and size.

Although rare, Camacinia gigantea may occur in numbers when there are adequate water source and at certain time of the year. It is a delight to watch them fly gracefully over the surface of the water and then perch peacefully at their favorite spot.


Pornothemis starrei Lieftinck, 1948 – Young Female

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Pornothemis starrei
Common Name: Mangrove Marshal

Pornothemis starrei is a mangrove species of dragonfly that is quite rare in Singapore. I have seen this species at SBWR, Pulau Ubin and the mangrove swamp at northern part of Singapore.

The male is slightly metallic black with greenish-blue eyes. Female was rarely photographed.

Recently, I have captured some female photos and here is one of the younger female.

Female Pornothemis starrei – males are occasionally encountered, females are very rare.
The eyes are greenish-blue. Wings are clear.
Legs and abdomen are black.
Body is olive colour. She has prominent flaps on the side of segment 8.
An easy species to photograph as long as it’s not disturbed.
A stunning beautiful species.

Scarlet Pygmy – Singapore’s smallest dragonfly

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Nannophya pygmaea
Common Name: Scarlet Pygmy

This small dragonfly can be found in most habitats that are close to water, such as wetlands, swamps, and small streams. They prefer opened and exposed vegetation near to water with adequate sunlight.

Here are some shots of male, female and immature male.

“Red Chili”- Adult male.
Adult Male.
Immature Male.
Immature Male.
Immature Male.
Immature Male.
A mating pair.

Brachydiplax chalybea Brauer, 1868

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Brachydiplax chalybea
Common Name: Blue Dasher

Brachydilpax Chalybea is a relatively small dragonfly from the family of Libellulidae, a species which is very common and wide spread in Singapore. It usually inhibits ponds, streams, and some disturbed areas outside the nature reserves. Female is less common and may appear only when mating.

The male of this dragonfly has a powdery blue thorax with light to brown patches. The abdomen is also powdery blue with the last three segments dark in colour. It also has a dark yellowish tint at the base of it’s wings. Female is generally similar in size but has more orangey body and dark markings along the dorsum of the abdomen. Unlike male, female has clear wing base.

Males are often territorial and are very active in the morning and early afternoon. This species is very similar to Aethriamanta gracilis, but the latter species is smaller in size and has a wider wing venation. It is also quite similar to Raphismia bispina, which is rare in Singapore and inhabits only at mangrove swamps.

Male – lateral view.
Male – dorsal view

Female of this species is more attractive, and less common.

Female – Very orangey in colour
Female – doral view showing the dark markings at the abdomen

Onychothemis testacea Laidlaw, 1902

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Onychothemis testacea
Common Name: Riverhawk

It was a normal sunny Thursday morning on 29th December 2011, as usual, I was shooting dragonflies at one of my favourite hunting ground – chestnut forests. That morning was exceptionally good in insect activities as the ground was literally bustling with these foraging insects. There were common blue skimmers, slender blue skimmers, spine-tufted skimmers, scarlet skimmers and many small skipper butterflies flying around. I thought since all these are commoners, it will be another uneventful day.

While I was shooting the common dragonflies, I turned around and suddenly saw a strange and fierce looking dragonfly perched on a small twig, about 3 metres away from me. It was a robust, black looking insect, with yellow stripes on it’s thorax, yellow bands on it’s abdomen, very long hind legs and a pair of piercing dark green eyes. I slowing moved forward and from a distance, about 2 metres away, with my 100mm macro lens, I quickly snapped a few shots, knowing that this was something which I have never seen before.

While I moved in closer and tried to compose another shot, the dragonfly suddenly flew off and gone. Just as it suddenly disappeared, from nowhere, it re-appeared again, this time round with a small brown skipper butterfly under it’s claws. It was eating that butterfly alive. I was stunned! I quickly moved a few steps forward and took another few more shots.

When I tried to move in even closer, and focused on the eyes of that dragonfly, it saw me. Yes, it literally tilted it’s head up and look into my lens. Now, I was eye-to-eye in direct contact with this insect. Sensing my threat, it flew off again, still with it’s food in it’s mouth and disappeared to nowhere.

For the next 5 minutes or so, I tried to search for it everywhere, and eventually yes, I did found it, this time, it perched on a tree branch, about 2.5 to 3 metres away from the ground. From this angle, I could only manage some long distance shots.

I sent the photos to Mr. Tang and he told me that this was a very rare dragonfly, a female Onychothemis testacea. I was told that I was the first and only person in Singapore who have seen and shot this female dragonfly. (A male of this species was shot along a nature trail in MacRitchie Reservoir in January 2008.)

After that fateful day, I have never seen this dragonfly again.


Indothemis limbata (Selys, 1891)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Indothemis limbata
Common Name: Restless Demon

This species has been listed in the Singapore Red Data Book as critically endangered species. It is classified in Mr. Tang’s book as a Rare species which occurs in open marshes with emergent plants. So far, I have seen this species only at MacRitchie reservoirs.

Generally, the male of this species is quite dark. The thorax is dark-blue whilst the abdomen is lighter blue. The extremities of the wing tips are tinted with dark-brown, and there is a dark patch at the base of the hindwings, a smaller one at the base of the forewings.

The males are very active in the early morning and midday, chasing away rivals whilst establish their territories.  Female is paler, and so far, has not been observed in Singapore.


Trithemis festiva (Rambur, 1842)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Trithemis festiva
Common Name: Indigo Dropwing

Trithemis festiva is a very attractive dragonfly which inhabits fast flowing streams through open grasslands.

Male has dark blue synthorax and bluish abdomen with orange streaks. There is a brownish patch at the hindwing base. Superficially, male looks like Indothemis limbata, but lacks dark wing tips. Female is brownish yellow with dark markings on the thorax. Females are often found inlands, tree tops and therefore rarely seen.

Female - dorsal view
Female – dorsal view

Trithemis aurora (Burmeister, 1839)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Trithemis aurora
Common Name: Crimson Dropwing

Trithemis aurora is a small but beautiful dragonfly commonly found in ponds, streams, edges of the reservoirs, and weedy drains. They can be found at Singapore Botanic Garden, Dairy Farm Nature Parks, MacRitchie Reservoir, and many other places in Singapore.

The eyes, thorax and abdomen are brilliant glowing red, wing veins are red, and base of hind wings are tinted dark red in male, dark brown in female.

Immature male is brownish in color, similar to female, but without any black markings at the side of the abdomen.

This is a sun loving species. Male and female like to bask under hot sun in an obelisk position.

Immature Male
Immature Male
Older female

Nesoxenia lineata (Selys, 1879)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Nesoxenia lineata
Common Name: Striped Grenadier

This dragonfly is a smaller “grenadier”species, relatively uncommon, and inhibits swampy forests.

There are yellow bands on the sides of the thorax. The abdomen is thin and narrow, spear-shape in appearance, segments 6-8 are red, 9-10 are black. Females are similar in thoracic markings.

Young males perch for long period on twigs over shallow leafy-forest pools.