Mortonagrion arthuri Fraser, 1942

Family: Coenagrionidae
Scientific Name: Mortonagrion arthuri
Common Name: Arthur’s Midget

Mortonagrion arthuri is a locally rare species of damselfly which is confined to mangrove habitats around Singapore, particularly Pulau Ubin, Pulau Semakau and Sungei Cina.

Their natural habitats are inlets of mangrove swamps where they like to rest on the tip of an emergent twig of mangrove trees.

Male has two color forms.  Blue form and yellow form. The blue form has blue stripes on the side of the thorax and blue postocular spots; while the yellow form has similar features but in yellow. Male also has distinct blue spots on the segment 8 of it’s abdomen.

Females are duller in color. It has brown thorax with similar stripes to the male. Young female also has the distinct spots on it’s abdomen. Older female has the spots completely obscured.

In general, males of mortonagrion arthuri are more rarer than females.

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Female mortonagrion arthuri. Notice the blue stripes and blue spots on the abdomen. This specimen was found at Pulau Ubin.
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Same female as above.
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Another female at Pulau Ubin. This is a much older female where the abdomen is almost black with no visible spots on it’s abdomen.
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Another old female. The end of the abdomen are almost covered with earth. A sign of ovipositing on muddy soil.
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This female was found at Sungei cina. An old female with a muddy abdomen.
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Same female as above. This picture shows a brownish thorax with yellowish strips and postocular spots.
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An interesting view of the front which shows the dark brownish eyes and black face. Notice the “dracula-like” mouth!.
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Another female at sungei cina. This is a younger female with distinct blue spots at it’s abdomen.
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A lateral view of the above female.

Males of this species are generally hard to find. I have seen a couple of females at Pulau Ubin but not a single male.

I have better luck at Sungei Cina, where I managed to captured a couple of males both in blue and yellow form.

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Blue form male #1. It has distinct blue stripes and spots on it’s abdomen. Also notice the unique shape of it’s postocular spots
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Male #1. side view.
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Male #1. Lateral view
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Male #1. Frontal shot showing the interesting facial features.
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Male #2. Young male, blue form.
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Male #2. Dorsal view. Notice the unique postocular eye spots, slim blue stripes and blue marks on the abdomen’s segment 8.
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Male #2. Appendages are black The superior appendages are shorter than the inferiors.
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Male #3, yellow form. taken against the swampy mangrove.
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Male #3. Lateral view. Notice the small spots at the side of the abdomen.
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Male #4 yellow form. Why is this specimen looks abit greenish in color?
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Male #4. yellowish / greenish male form.
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Male #4.

In Singapore, not many photos of this species has been available in the internet. I hope these photos could add to the archive of the diversity of odonata found in Singapore’s natural environment.

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Dragonflies & Damselfly of the mangrove swamps

In this post, I would like to showcase a few species of dragonfly and damselfly which could only be found in the mangrove swamps around Singapore’s coastal regions. Areas which I had visited include Sungei  Buloh Wetalnd Reserves, Pulau Ubin, and the mangrove swamps around the North Western part of Singapore.

Some species are uncommon such as mangrove dwarf (Raphismia bispina) whilst others are rare, such as the elusive mangrove marshal (Pornothemis starrei) and Arthur’s Midget (Mortonagrion arthuri).

  1. Raphismia bispina (Mangrove Dwarf)

They are uncommon species and one of the few dragonfly species that lives and breeds in the salt water in mangrove swamps. I have seen and recorded this species at Pulau Ubin, SBWR, and Sungei Cina.

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Young female Raphisma bispina. It has clear wings. The eyes are brown on top and yellow below. It has mottled yellow marking at the side of it’s thorax and yellow streaks along the abdomen.
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An older female where the yellow markings at the side of the thorax and abdomen are obscured.
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A sub-adult male. The thorax is slated blue with some yellow streaks at the side of the abdomen.

2. Pornothemis starrei (Mangrove Marshal)

This species is rare in Singapore. I have come across it once at SBWR and Pulau Ubin and a few occasions at sungei cina.

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A female pornothemis starrei.
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A male pornothemis starrei. It is slightly metallic black with white pruinescence on the dorsum of the thorax.

3. Mortonagrion arthuri ( Arthur’s Midget)

Mortonagrion arthuri is also a mangrove species and could be found at Pulau Ubin and Sungei Cina.

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A female Mortonagrion arthuri resting at the tip of the root of mangrove tree. It has brown thorax with blue stripes. Similar to males, it also has distinct blue markings on segment 8 of the abdomen.
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An older female. The blue markings on the abdomen is already obscured and could not be seen.
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A male mortonagrion arthuri. Male has two colour forms. This is a bue form which it has blue stripes on the thorax and blue postocular spots. Notice the distinct blue markings at segment 8 of the abdomen.

Although not exclusively associate with mangrove habitats, the following two species of dragonfly could also be found there.

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A male Orthetrum sabina ( Variegated green skimmer).
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A female Agrionoptera insignis (grenadier).

It is important to preserve our limited mangrove habitats so the rare species of plants and animals could continue to thrive there.

 

Pornothemis starrei Lieftinck, 1948

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

Mangrove Marshall is predominantly a mangrove species of rare dragonfly that can be found in mangrove habitat in most part of Singapore coastal areas. I have encountered this species at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Pulau Ubin, and at the mangrove swamps at Western part of Singapore.

The male has a metallic black body with light bluish pruinescence on the dorsum of the thorax. It also has markings that look like “stars” on the synthorax, that differs between individuals. The abdomen is thin, dark and curved when view from the side It has a pair of attractive greenish-blue eyes.

Females are olive in colour on the sides of the thorax and are rarely encountered.

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Pornothemis starrei, male. Notice the dark green eyes and the predominantly black body.
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A younger individual male. The wings are clear. The light bluish pruinescence on the dorsum is clearly visible.
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Another male. Notice the unique markings on the synthorax of each individual.
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This male has a more prominent blue pruinescence on the dorsum and first 3 segments of the abdomen. It has a more rounded markings on the synthorax.
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Yet another male with an overall black abdomen. You can also notice the slight curvature of the abdomen.
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An old female with an olive body. It has the same appearance as the male but more stouter and bigger.
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Another female in dorsal view. Notice the hyaline wings and a little patch of brown at the base of the wings.
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A younger female in lateral view. The hind legs are quite long, and notice the prominent flags on each side of the abdominal segment 8.
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Very young female. The body is golden brown in colour with yellowish strips and markings on the abdomen.
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In live specimen, this young female has a very striking golden hue to her body.  
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Side view of the above female.
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Another young female in dorsal view.
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Profile view of the above female.

I have caught many males and females in pixel over a span of a few weeks of this elegant and rare species at the mangrove swamps of Singapore. One has to see the real specimen to appreciate the beauty of the species.

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Pornothemis starrei Lieftinck, 1948 – Young Male

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

Pornothemis starrei young male is like the female with almost the same coloration.

It was quite rare and this one was found at the mangrove habitats at the northern part of Singapore.

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Young male resting on twig some distance away from the mangrove.
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Side view with distinctive olive brown thorax.
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Clear wings, black legs and abdomen.
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Eyes are brownish on top and greenish below.
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Protruding secondary genitalia.
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close-up of head and thorax.

This species prefers mangrove habitats and males are always found nearby when females are around. A species that should not be that difficult to encounter if one is at the right time and place.

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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.

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Female Pornothemis starrei – males are occasionally encountered, females are very rare.
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The eyes are greenish-blue. Wings are clear.
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Legs and abdomen are black.
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Body is olive colour. She has prominent flaps on the side of segment 8.
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An easy species to photograph as long as it’s not disturbed.
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A stunning beautiful species.
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Raphismia bispina (Hagen, 1867) * Female

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Raphismia bispina
Common Name: Mangrove Dwarf

Female Raphismia bispina has a black thorax and abdomen and covered with mottled yellow markings on the sides of the thorax and conspicuous yellow streaks along the sides of the abdomen. As the female matures, the markings on the thorax and abdomen are covered with pruinose.

It seems that females are more commonly encounter than the males.

This is a young female with hyaline wings, and clear yellow streaks along the abdomen.

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Another young female.

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Slightly aged matured female. Markings on the thorax and abdomen are obscured.

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Another older female.

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Raphismia bispina (Hagen, 1867) * Male

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Raphismia bispina
Common Name: Mangrove Dwarf

This is an uncommon species of dragonfly which inhabits mangrove swamps. It can be found at Changi, Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong, Mandai, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and other offshore islands. It is one of the dragonfly species that live and breeds in the salt water of back mangroves swamps and the surrounding vegetation.

The male Raphismia bispina looks like a smaller version of a Brachydiplax chalybea. It is in fact much smaller, lighter, and has a clear wing base. The male tend to perch for long period of time defending their territories against rival males in the mangrove swamps.

The thorax of the male is slate blue with mottled yellow marking on the sides. The eyes are dark brown on top and yellow below. The abdomen is slate blue with the last four segments black. There are two short spines behind the legs and beneath the thorax.

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Adult male. The thorax and abdomen is covered with blue pruinescense.
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Another male. Dorsal view with well-defined segments of blue and black.
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Same male.
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Third male. The wings are clear.
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Third male. Lateral view. The two short spines can be seen in this shot.

Sub-adult male. The series of whitish streaks on the abdomen against the slate blue and black body is striking.

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Dorsal view of the sub-adult male.
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Well-defined markings and streaks on the thorax and abdomen.
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Eyes are brown on top and greenish below. Frons is metallic blue.
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Lateral view.

Another sub-adult but slightly more matured male. It has lesser streaks on the sides of the abdomen than the earlier male.

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Dorsal view.
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The thorax and abdomen is slightly pruinosed.
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Dorsal view.
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Young adult male.
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Young adult male.
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Young adult male.

In Singapore, this species can be found whole year round in the mangrove swamps. I have seen them at Pulau Ubin and SBWR. A small and inconspicuous dragonfly but not difficult to find in the mangrove swamps. At times, they could be quite abundant.