Monday, May 16, 2016

Nepal - Godavari Dragonflies

Godavari Odonata

Godavari is special because it is a damselfly and dragonfly hotspot on the south side of the Kathmandu Valley. Located under the highest peak in the valley, Phulchowki 2782m, it is also the location of the National Botanic Gardens and a rich site for birds, butterflies and plants.

Unfortunately, it is changing rapidly with development of picnic areas, water tanker filling stations, new houses, garbage dumps in the streams and other human influences. The most damaging for invertebrates is the over drafting of water from the streams for water deprived Kathmandu, leaving nothing behind for the habitat.

The dragonflies and damselflies in this post (57 to date) have been photographed from several locations near the Godavari Botanic Gardens - a wetland area south of the National Botanical Gardens, inside the ICIMOD Knowledge Park and around the Godavari khunda and fisheries unit. The wetland is long and narrow, 10 to 15 meters wide and only 100 meters long, with a tiny streamlet hosting many types of birds, butterflies and selected dragonflies (area was recently dammed in 2016). Leading into this area is a messy picnic area that throbs with people and music on the weekends. Sometimes people make their way into this area but fortunately the leeches keep them at bay.


Family Calopterygidae or Demoiselles

Caliphaea confusa Hagen in Selys, 1959
Bronze-backed Demoiselles - Caliphaea confusa are found in dense pristine forests with small streams. These are one south of the National Botanic Garden, ICIMOD wetland, and the wetland mentioned above. They are emerald green when juvenile turning bronze as they age. They are among the first to appear in early April and disappear at the end of monsoon late August/September. They are weak flyers and are often found resting on ferns near water seepages, breeding in slow jungle streams.

Juvenile male (above) and female (below) have emerald green color

Neurobasis chinensis chinensis (Linnaeus, 1758)
A rapid flash of emerald green from a leaf or stone mid-stream is eye catching. This is a common species in Asia with many names, such as Stream Glory (India), Oriental Greenwing (Sri Lanka), Green-winged Demoiselle, Chinese Greenwing (China) and possibly other names apply, but all very descriptive of the beautiful green lining on the inner wing. Females are easily found near the males but with white nodes and pterostigmas on bronze colored wings. They are found on running rivers and streams from May through August.

Males above and a female below with white node and pterostigma.

Family Euphaeidae or Gossamer wings

Bayadera hyalina (Selys, 1879)
I was not sure if I should include this entry because of the discourse on B. longicauda (missing terminal segments) described by Asahina from Thailand and B. hyalina described from Meghalaya. This species information is given in detail on the IUCN website and is Red Listed as vulnerable. The description given by Fraser, 1934 matches the photographed insect so well that it must B. hyalina; i.e. hyaline wings, only yellow on lateral side of 1st abdominal segment, and the sharp ventral spine on the superior anal appendages. I don't have a specimen so this ID has to be taken with a bit of doubt. Regardless, I only found it one time as a teneral insect in a jungle wetland in Godavari.

Bayadera indica Selys, 1853
This damselfly is widespread across many areas in Nepal and into Northwest and Northeast India, and possibly into Bhutan. The key ID for this species is the male with black tips on both fore and hind wings and turquoise blue markings on the face. They prefer fast moving streams and will often rest on stones or debris in the middle of the stream.

Anisopleura comes Hagen, 1880
This species was found next to a slow stream in a heavily forested area sitting on vegetation. The females were harder to find resting farther into the bushes. Their coloration is varied by the extent of pruinescence - younger males were green and older more silvery blue.

Anisopleura lestoides Selys, 1853
The long spear-like mark on the upper thorax is easily to spot, and separates it from closely related A comes. Fairly more common, A. lestoides is found in similar locations, small well vegetated streams. They are weak flyers and breed in running water. Older individuals have more pruinesence and the details are harder to see. They are found from mid monsoon to October.

Anisopleura subplatystyla Fraser, 1927
I have seen this one outside of the Kathmandu valley (see the Daman page), but just this week I found it in a small wetland next to ICIMOD. A new addition to my Godavari list. A subplatystyla is known from Meghalaya, Sikkim, Chang Mai, and one unsure record in Yunnan. I have been visiting the Godavari wetland for the last 5 years and this is the first time I have seen it; both males and females were found. It is not common but there were about 3 males and 2 females seen in one day.

Family Chlorocyphidae or Jewels

Aristocypha trifasciata syn Rhinocypha + bifasciata Selys, 1879
Always found near running water, and depending on the light you can see beautiful emerald or purple colors in the inner wings. There are two bands on the male wings - the second band mid-wing usually develops later.  They show up later in the monsoon season from July to October, both males and females are present.The wings of the females are evenly tinted brown. DNA studies have shown that Aristocypha/Heliocypha group is distinct from Rhinocypha which are from New Guinea.

Family Synlestidae or Sylphs
Megalestes major Selys,1862
This is an emerald colored, slender bodied damselfly that seeks dark wet forested areas such as the wetland in Godavari. Unlike other damselflies it holds its wings out to the side when resting. The body is much longer than its wings. Two synlestidae species are found in Nepal - Megalestes major (yellow under thorax) and M. irma (black under thorax at higher elevations).

Family Lestidae or Reedlings

Indolestes cyaneus Selys, 1862
Indolestes are called Reedlings for the main reason that is where they are found, in reed beds next to lakes and ponds. Found at higher elevations even up to 2000m, they are hard to spot being very slender but the blue color is attractive to the eye. As juveniles they are almost same color as dry grass and very difficult to spot. They breed in early June and again in early October.

Family Platycnemididae or Brook Damselflies

Coeliccia renifera (Selys, 1886)
Along seepages and slow streams these beautiful green and black damselflies are spotted mostly by the white anal appendages and the bright green markings on their thorax. Females are less brightly marked and mix in with the vegetation. They appear just before monsoon in June, breed in June and September.

Calicnemia nipalica Kimmins, 1958
This is an uncommon wetland inhabitant, resting along the seepages and small canals in darker areas of the jungle. The colour of the adult takes time to deepen. From its appearance in mid-April the male and females have similar colorations but by June the male's color deepens to darker red and solid black toward the end of the abdomen. Mating observed in late June and it is present through July.

Calicnemia pulverulans (Selys, 1886)
Lives in the same dark forested conditions as C. nipalica, they are often found side by side. The abdomen color is pruinosed early in life and deepens with age, overall it has a waxy blue color with some yellow lateral thoracic stripes. Mostly found in months of May through July mating in early May.

Above is a close-up of the male's anal appendages. Below is the start of the pruinescense that gives the powdery blue coloration.

Family Coenagrionidae or Pond Damselflies

Aciagrion olympicum Laidlaw, 1919
Seen in the Godavari wetland for a couple of months in 2014. The body was not fully colored but the blue markings on segments 8,9 and 10 were clear, thorax was tan and brown with brown black markings on surface of abdomen - later turning blue. Seen mid-April until May.

Agriocnemis pygmaea (Rambur, 1842)
So tiny it is easily over looked as it floats through blades of grass lining small ponds and slow streams. The males are easier to see with a tint of dark orange at the end of the abdomen. Males and females are seen together from early May to October.

Amphiallagma parvum syn Enallagma parvum (Selys, 1876)
A tiny powder blue damselfly with black markings on vertex, thorax and abdomen. It inhabits the center and edges of ponds with vegetation on the surface. Seen at the Godavari Kunda from March through end of May. Mating begins in May through monsoon.

Ceriagrion azureum (Selys, 1891)
A long thin pale blue damselfly with some pale green on top of the thorax and black at tip of abdomen. Found in the shaded forest area with a small stream near ICIMOD. Present from May, June and July. Females are seen at the start of monsoon.

Ceriagrion coromandelianum Fabricius, 1789
The bright yellow abdomen with green thorax easy to spot as it glides through the grasses and shrubs next to small ponds and lakes.They are dispersed throughout Southern Asia. Breeding is during the monsoon from July to August.

Ceriagrion fallax cerinomelas Lieftinck, 1927
Common in wetland areas and around ponds. Males stand out with bright yellow bodies lined with black toward the last few segments. They are out early in the season from April/May through October. Mating was observed in July and emerging tenerals even into October.

Ceriagrion olivaceum (Laidlaw, 1914)
A very dull colored damselfly, females are slightly darker than males. Not commonly seen. They are found in the jungle area near ICIMOD April through October.

Ischnura aurora (Brauer, 1865)
Ischnura are small damselflies known as fork tails. I. aurora is similar to I. rufostigma plus subspecies (variation in extent of blue on the abdomen). Small in size and hard to see in the grasses with a green and ocher body but the shining blue tip on the abdomen is easily spotted when looking for them. Females are polymorphic color, resembling the male or other color variations. May through end of October with some mating observed in October.

Ischnura rufostigma montana (rufostigma group) Fraser, 1946
Very similar to I. aurora but the amount of blue at the tip of the abdomen is restricted to the top of segment 8. Vick 1986, worked on the I. rufostigma group because of the many noticeable variations of the abdominal segments 6-10. This one from Godavari he placed in the carpentieri group with blue mark on 8th segment and stronger tubercles. Asahina (1991) later described these under the name I. rufostigma montana, because the carpenter was further east. The group remains confusing and without molecular work the confusion will remain. Female lacks the ochre coloration, as per the taxon the pterostigma is bicolored. Mating was observed twice in June and September. They are found at the Kunda on the water and in the grasses. Seen from March through October.

Ischnura forcipata Morton, 1907
I. forcipata is found on the pond near the Godavari khunda along with I. rufostigma montana and P. decorum. The thorax is grass green, contrasting with the black surface of the abdomen with blue on segments 8, 9 and sides of 10. The blue post ocular spots are easily seen on the backs of black eyes, also a tiny pale blue spot on the pterostigma in the fore wing. Appearing early in the spring mating twice at the beginning (April) and end of the season (September).

Pseudagrion decorum Rambur, 1842
Very small sized and easily over looked with a pale blue and green stripes on thorax, darker abdomen and light blue at the tip of the abdomen. I have yet to see a female. They are usually at the small pond below the Godavari kunda in April and May.

Pseudagrion rubriceps (Selys, 1876)
The red eyes are easily spotted to determine this damselfly. The abdomen is blackish brown on dorsum with blue sides and light blue terminal segments. Mating was observed in April and found at the Kunda through August.

Family Gomphidae or Clubtails

Anisogomphus bivittatus Selys, 1854
In open areas on stones and on vegetation. Differs from the other in that it has a vase-like swelling at the end of the abdomen. The photo below shows this feature very nicely. They are quite common sitting on small bushes next to small streams in May through September.

Anisogomphus occipitalis (Selys, 1854)
Usually found on forest streams with heavy vegetation. The size and coloration is similar to A. bivittatus but the markings on and shape of the three last segments are very different. Found in good numbers on vegetation next to small streams during the monsoon season from June to September.

Lamelligomphus biforceps (Selys, 1878)
A fine specimen to see with large clasper type anal appendages. Black based background with yellow markings and large circular appendages is a clue to the identity. One male was found resting on plants in the herb garden at ICIMOD. Repeated efforts to find it again were nil.

Family Aeshnidae or Hawkers

Anaciaeschna donaldi Fraser, 1922 or Anaciaeschna martini Selys 1897.
A. donaldi is found in Sri Lanka and Western Ghats, India - quite far from Nepal. The females of both species oviposit in aquatic plant clusters in forest ponds.
The photos are from the wetland at ICIMOD. They mate high above the ground at tree top level, the males fly off and the females descend to the pond. The female with darkened wing venation are shown. This species is closely related to A. martini and Ris suggested that Fraser's A. donaldi was A. martini. Fraser briefly changed the name but later after finding a male specimen recovered the name A. donaldi citing geographic distance as the determining factor. A single specimen in the Nepal Natural History museum is also labeled A. martini.

A martini or donaldi? male July 2017. The males of Anaciaeschna are hard to find and very few records exist with a good description. I a male dead on the ground while walking through the Godavari Knowledge Park. It is either A. martini or A. donaldi, both are very similar. A. martini is listed as being found in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand. While A. donaldi is listed as being found in Sri Lanka, Nepal and western Ghats in South India. It is a long distance flyer and the range of flight is unknown. It is found near forested swamps and small pools at elevations of 800m to 1700m. This one was just above a small wetland area that is to the east of ICIMOD Knowledge Park in Godavari close to where a female was found in June 2012 ovipositing in a nearby forest pond.

Anax nigrofasciatus nigrolineata Fraser, 1935
Anax nigrofasciatus nigrolineata is similar in behavior to A. donaldi. The flight is rapid over the surface of small ponds, but both male and females are seen near the pond. Females oviposit into surface water plants and loose mud close to the sides of these ponds. They have been found at several locations in Godavari and at higher locations at Shiv Puri above 2000m. Sightings March through July.

Above top view of male, to the side anal appendages. The bottom photo is the exuviae.

Sarasaeschna previously Oligoaeschna martini? Lieftinck, 1968
This one presents many problems as it almost fits the descriptions in Fraser 1934 of Jagoria martini Laidlaw,1921. But this one was reassigned to Oligoaeschna by Lieftinck as he attempted to characterize the genera together under this name. The genera is changed again to Sarasaeschna by Karube and Yeh, 2014. According to Lieftinck there were a few solitary females such as the one I have photographed here. It seems to fit the details of O. decorata. However, I originally put this as O. martini because of the description in Fraser, 1936 of Jagoria martini, but Lieftinck also mentions that Fraser places the female he describes as J. martini but his drawings of the female appendages is much closer to O. decorata. There is still some confusion as to what this one might actually be. So excuse the uncertainty of this identification but given the resources I have I believe this as close as I can get.

Gynacantha bayadera Selys, 1891
A wide spread species that turns up all over in Asia - from New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and throughout North East India, Myanmar and Nepal. It flies at dusk and is a voracious carnivore. This one was was found cruising up and down the road to Pulchowki peak at an elevation of 1600m.

Gynacantha incisura Fraser, 1935
I first found this one on the doorstep one night in Godavari. It was attracted to the light, but must have died in the night. At first it was not clear that it was G incisura because the incised part was not very clear as depicted in Fraser's drawing. After looking at drawings by Asahina, 1984 it was more convincing. They are crepuscular hanging from branches in the jungle during the day.

The anal appendage is shown above from the ventral surface. The incised part is shallow. Below is the female.

Polycanthagyna erythromelas (McLachlan, 1985)
This is a large attractive dragonfly that is found across the Himalayas and into Pakistan on the west and as far as Vietnam to the east. It tends to fly in the evenings flying back and forth as it devours mosquitos. They breed in small ponds and have been found from June through September.

Family Cordulegastridae or Spiketail

Anotogaster nipalensis (Selys, 1854)
Found along flowing streams at elevations from 1300 to 1800 meters in the Himalaya's Nepal and Bhutan. They guard stream sections flying low over the water and ovipositing into the banks and soft plants along the edges.

Family Undefined - Previously Corduliidae

Idionyx stevensi Fraser, 1924
Only one male (May, 2012) was found in the small wetland near ICIMOD. This was an emerging teneral that had not emerged successfully and was taken as a specimen. I believe degradation of the habitat has affected the population. The water source where the specimen was found has now become unreliable. Previously placed in the family of Corduliidae but now molecular information is being used to redefine the family and many taxon placed there.

Family Macromiidae or Cruisers

cromia moorei Selys, 1874
Wide spread across many southeast Asian countries. The noticeable features are the emerald green eyes and on closer inspection the laterally flattened appearance of the body. They are patrollers moving up and down streams or if lucky found perching pendant like from tree branches. Found from June through September.

Libellulidae or Perchers
Acisoma panorpoides Rambur, 1842
Very common throughout Asia and Africa with a number of common names such as Asian Pintail, Grizzled Pintail, Trumpet Tail, etc. The body shape and color make it very quick to ID, females are yellow otherwise the same and the males. They are found at wetlands, ponds, lakes and streams, mostly during monsoon. In Nepal they are found from about 1400 m to the Terai at 90m.

Brachythemis contaminata (Fabricius, 1793)
Another very common species found throughout Asia and with many names; Orange-winged Groundling, Ditch Jewel, Common Amberwing, etc. This one is not particular about habitat, it is found from open areas to all kinds of water sources (even some that are not clean). Early to appear and in some warmer climates it is found all year, in Nepal during the monsoon season and a bit before.

Crocothemis servillia (Drury, 1773)
Found throughout Asia including Japan, Indonesia and into Central Asia and Middle East and even accidentally introduced into the United States (Florida). Called the Oriental Scarlet or Scarlet Skimmer. In Nepal it is found on small lakes and ponds during the monsoon season and into October.

Diplacodes trivialis (Rambur, 1842)
Like the previous, this one is very wide spread throughout Asia and into Papua New Guinea and Australia. It also has many common names, such as Blue Percher and Little Blue Darter. Not too particular about habitat it is often found sitting on the ground away from water sources. In tropical areas it is seen all year.

Male above - female below

Neurothemis fulvia (Drury, 1773)
A very striking dragonfly that is easy to spot. It is found in many locations throughout Asia often called Fulvous Forest Skimmer. In Nepal it is usually near paddy fields and shrubs near wetlands and ponds. Male has round clear area at tips of reddish wings. Female's wings are uniform in color. It is one of the first to appear in April and last to be seen in late October.

Neurothemis intermedia (Rambur, 1842)
Found at the lower elevations in Godavari near paddy fields, and is called the Paddy Field Parasol. It is not a strong flyer and rests on the bund or ditches near paddy fields. Breeds after rains or irrigation starts and lives on paddy.

Male above - female below

Orthetrum glaucum (Brauer, 1865)
Found at the Kunda from May through October. They breed in small ponds such as the Kunda. This taxa is widely dispersed through out Asia. They are called Asian Skimmer or Blue Marsh Hawk This one has a dark face and as older adults becomes fully pruinosed. Breeding is from June to November.

Orthetrum japonicum (Uhler, 1858)
Found in the Himalaya - Hindu Kush region and Japan. The body shape is more tubular equally fat almost to the end of the abdomen. The color is also a very light blue with a dirty blue face. This one is not as common as other Orthetrum relatives. It is found at elevations above 1200m resting on lily pads or reed beds in wetlands and small fresh water ponds. Breeding is in April and through end of Monsoon.

Orthetrum luzonicum (Brauer, 1868)
Like other relatives in Orthetrum group of skimmers these are wide spread in Asia. The key identity feature is the pale yellow face and dilated abdomen. The color varies from juvenile to adult becoming more pruinosed to a sky blue color. They are found in the same location as the others in the group near the kunda and other small ponds. Called Luzon Skimmer.

Juvenile male top - next older male and last photo female

Orthetrum pruinosum neglectum (Rambur, 1842)
Not particular about habitat this one is found at a large variety of locations - it is called the Pink Skimmer. Identification is quiet easy with the dark purplish blue thorax and bright red abdomen. Females in the group are harder to distinguish except this one has a lateral expansion on segment 8. Life cycle is long from April to November.

Orthetrum sabina (Drury, 1773)
Called the Slender Skimmer or the Green Skimmer this one occurs in Europe, Middle East, Africa and all of Asia including Micronesia. Coloration is unique as is the extreme shape of the abdomen within this group. Males and females are very similar. It is found in a wide variety of habitats.

Orthetrum taeniolatum (Schneider, 1845)
The Small Skimmer is found in the Himal-Hindu Kush region. It is not common in Godavari because it prefers hotter lower regions. Still occasionally seen early in the season before Monsoon.

Orthetrum triangulare (Selys, 1878)
Very common in Godavari from May through November. It is called the Triangle Skimmer. The male is easy to distinguish having black thorax and end of abdomen with bright blue in between. The wings have a small triangular black color in the hind wing. It is found breeding from April to October.

Palpopleura sexmaculata (Fabricius, 1787)
Widespread in Asia and common near paddy lands. Commonly called the Asian Widow or Blue-tailed Yellow Skimmer. Tiny in size but quite colorful, so it is easy to spot and identify. Found in the area from April to October.

Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798)
The Globe Wanderer gets this name because it is found almost all around the world. Recent articles have described its migration patterns. It is an opportunistic breeder - as soon as rain forms bigger puddles you will find rapid mating and egg laying into the wet ground.

Sympetrum commixtum (Selys, 1884)
Found at higher elevations from about 1500m to 3500m in the Himalayan region. High altitude wetlands and pond areas attract this species. It is typical of the genera red body marked with black; female is yellow with black. Recorded from June to later October with breeding see in October at 2000m. Called Mountain Meadowhawk.

Trithemis aurora (Burmeister,1839)
Hot pink is the color that strikes when you first see this one on green reeds or grasses next to small ponds or rivers. It is very common through out Asia. The female is yellow with large ochre colored patch in the hind wings and brown wing tips. Called Dawn Dropwing, Crimson Dropwing, or Crimson Marsh Glider.

Trithemis festiva (Rambur, 1842)
Another wide spread species that occurs throughout Asia and into southern Europe. The male is a lovely dark blue collar and is called the Indigo Drop-wing or Black Stream Glider. The female is harder to find and only appears when it is time to breed, which is very quick then it disappears after ovipositing. It perches on rocks in small streams or next to banks of rivers and ponds.

Trithemis festiva female above and male below

Tramea basilaris Kirby, 1889
Usually flying above your head and landing in the upper tree canopy, this one is called the Keyhole Glider, Red Marsh Trotter, Wheeling Glider. Sometimes seen resting on weeds or bushes with the two long superior anal appendages, reddish color with the reddish and black patches in the wings it is not hard to differentiate it from others. Males and females are alike.

Urothemis signata signata Rambur, 1842
There are a number of subspecies found through out Asia where it is most commonly U signata signata. It needs more study to differentiate the subspecies - sometimes the more common the easier it is to over look slight differences. Bright red with patches in the wings make for common names like Greater Crimson Skimmer and Scarlet Basker. It is common from mid hills to Terai in Nepal throughout the year in some places.

Now on to the dragonflies from other locations in Nepal....