Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vestalis gracilis

Second new record to Singapore for my project!

The Clear Winged Forest Glory, Vestalis gracilis.

Found in Mandai Track 16 stream during one of our surveys. When my dad saw this he originally thought it was the Vestalis amoena or amethystina, both rather commonly found in Singapore forests. So he got a photo to do the identification at home. But when we reached home we realized that it did not look like either of the species!

It can be distinguished rather easily from the other two by the white-ish markings on the sides of the thorax, and furthermore its habitat is rather different from the two forest ones.

We went back to look for more of them with Mr Tang and here we go, two more individuals :D

The Mandai Track 16 stream is also not conserved, and is in fact just below the BKE. We do have many essential nature areas outside our reserves that're worth conserving!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Agriocnemis minima

Agriocnemis minima - first record of this species in Singapore! This tiny damselfly hasn't been spotted in Singapore (nor Peninsular Malaysia, if I'm not mistaken) before.

At the survey sites is at Chestnut Marsh, and on our second survey there we found a female individual which did not look like the more common A. femina. Upon checking with experts in the field we were not able to do a proper identification due to extreme similarity in colouration between several species, and also the individuals of this genus tend to have a huge range of different colour forms. Female Odonata individuals is generally hard to differentiate to a species level if there is no good documentation or clear differences in the appendages.

On a survey yesterday morning we found two males and a female after much time spent searching and tracking, because these damsels are really small! (even for damselflies) Also, they tend to perch on the base parts of the reed, near the water surface, thus its easy to miss them if you just do a quick glance.

 We're now able to identify it as the Agriocnemis minima because the male appendages for this genus are rather different for each species. It can be differentiated from the other Agriocnemis species by the structure at the end of its appendage - the A. minima has a hook-like structure, which can be seen in this photo.

For more info: http://thaiodonata.blogspot.com/2011/02/agriocnemis-minima-one-of-seven-species.html and you can see that the other forms are really different! The female colouration tends to be duller, but this little guy has really brilliant markings :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Amphicnemis gracilis / bebar

At a recent survey in the Central Catchment Reserves we had a pretty good haul!

Species found:
Vetalis amethystina
Amphicnemis bebar
Libellago aurantiaca
Prodasineura notostigma
Euphaea impars
Coeliccia octogesima
Prodasineura collaris
Libellago hyalina
Drepanosticta quadrata
Orthetrum chrysis
Orchithemis pulcherrima

We had our first sighting of the Libellago hyalina in that area! It is quite commonly found at the upstream segments of the same stream system but we have never seen it along this particular trail, although it is frequented by the L. aurantiaca.

An interesting find would be the Amphicnemis bebar. Only recently described, it is completely similar to the A. gracilis on the outside. The only viable way of differentiating the two on the field is to consider the appendages as follows:

The left is the bebar, the right gracilis.

The habitat in which they reside are slightly different as well. Prof Murphy has a specimen of A. bebar collected years ago, before its description, mislabelled as A. gracilis. With this proof that Singapore had this species before, it was soon rediscovered again in the Central Catchment Reserves.

Both species have various colour forms - a green/black thorax, black abdomen form and a red thorax, black abdomen form. The red form is pretty striking! We recently saw both forms of the A. gracilis at another survey in the Petaling stream system.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Track 16: Libellago lineata (Golden Gem)

Recently at Track 16 while doing a survey (on a sunny day) we observed a flash of yellow and black, and upon tracking it down discovered that it was a Libellago lineata. We hadn't seen this species at this location before for the survey.

As we transected along the stream we kept seeing individuals and we wondered if it was the same one following us, but after a while we confirmed that there were multiple individuals. As we walked on we realized there were really a lot of Libellago lineata in the area - which was a delightful surprise, as we later found the female individuals.

In total we counted about 10 males and 5 females. The colour of the Libellago genus is always very amazing to me: L. aurantiaca (Fiery Gem) is the brilliant red and yellow, L. hyalina (Clearwing Gem) is a yellow and purple, and L. lineata is a beautiful yellow and black. The last one ever recorded in Singapore is L. stigmatizans (Orange-Faced Gem) which is suspected to be extinct locally.

The males of the Libellago genus have interesting territorial displays - the males hover before each other, as in Mr Tang's video:

We observed that behaviour several times at Track 16, however noted that the lineata display is very fast, settling the 'fight' much faster than that of the aurantiaca species.

For courtship, the males extend their white legs forward before the female, and the females reject the males by lifting their tail end up. We observed the rejected male moving on to the next female and the next, until a female consented. The entire process was extremely fast - they formed the heartshaped position, and a while later the female was ovipositing, with the male guarding her on the same twig floating on the water. And a while later, the male was with another female.

There was only one male in the area with around 4 females - probably the big winner of the day's territorial competitions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chestnut Marsh

Site: Chestnut Marsh
Species list: 

  • Crocothemis cervilia
  • Diplacodes trivialis
  • Ictinogomphus decoratus
  • Indothemis limbata
  • Nanophyea pygmea
  • Orthetrum Sabina
  • Orthetrum testaceum
  • Pantala flavescens
  • Rhyothemis phyllis phyllis
  • Ceriagrion cerinorubellum
  • Pseudagrion microcephallum

Weather: Perfect! Sun - 100%; Cloud - 0%
Time: 0845 - 0945

Chestnut Marsh is a shallow and open water body. Clear water with a muddy substrate - some vegetation growing within the marsh in the form of large patches of reeds in the middle of the area, and the banks that we accessed the area by were covered with ferns and pitcher plants.

Upon bashing into the growth on the bank we found hordes of Nanophyea pygmea (Scarlet Dwarf). These little guys are really amazingly good-looking! I never tire of observing them. Its probably something about the size - they seem too miniature to be quite real. Yet real they are, there were little red specks every few centimeters and also some tiny yellows (the females). I've gone for too long without seeing these little guys and it was good to see them again in such abundance. Rarely do we find them congregating in such numbers though! It felt quite as though we'd walked into Lilliputia.

Some interesting marsh species here! A pity we couldn't access the area from the other parts of the perimeter as the opposite banks had much denser growth; and the substrate of the marsh was too soft to be walked on..

Monday, November 28, 2011


Having recently stumbled on a link back to this blog from http://sayhitoant.blogspot.com/, I realized that I haven't updated in 11 months..

So I'm back to breathe life into this blog. After a year of little action on my front with regards to Odonata I've recently initiated a Odonata project under the Research program in my school. What I'm working on is a sampling of species across various forest fragments in Singapore.

As you can see, there are many small fragments of forests outside of the protected Central Catchment Area. In these areas there are many things worth protecting and a survey on the Odonata found is this areas should be quite fun!

So yes, I foresee more frequent updates. I've been to a few places already and made some interesting finds so I'll be posting about that soon.

Oh yes, there's been a lot of activity re Odonata these few years in Singapore! Discoveries of rare species.. more people getting involved.. all in all really exciting. I'm delighted at the amount of exposure and spotlight given to nature by an increasing percentage of the public! Here's to hoping it grows. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Location: MacRitchie Reservoir
Species seen: 30

  • Macromia cydippe
  • Gomphidae

  • Ictinogomphus decoratus

  • Libellulidae

  • Acisoma panorpoides
  • Aethriamanta gracilis
  • Chalybeothemis fulviatilis
  • Diplacodes nebulosa
  • Indothemis limbata
  • Nannophya pygmaea
  • Neurothemis fluctuans
  • Orchithemis pulcherrima
  • Orthetrum chrysis
  • Orthetrum sabina
  • Orthetrum testaceum
  • Pantala flavescens
  • Pseudothemis jorina
  • Rhyothemis obsolescens
  • Rhyothemis phyllis phyllis
  • Tramea transmarina
  • Trithemis aurora
  • Trithemis festiva
  • Trithemis pallidinervis
  • Tyriobapta torrida
  • Urothemis signata

  • Zygoptera--Damselflies

  • Vestalis amethystina
  • Coenagrionidae
  • Archibasis melanocyana
  • Ceriagrion cerinorubellum
  • Pseudagrion microcephalum
  • Euphaeidae
  • Euphaea impar
  • Lestidae
  • Lestes praemorsus
  • Megapodagrionidae
  • Podolestes orientalis
  • Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Macritchie Boardwalk (NSS walk)

    Location: Macritchie Boardwalk

    Species seen:
    Area: Golf Link beside reservoir
    Urothemis signata
    Pseudagrion microcephalum
    Pseudagrion australasiae
    Diplacodes nebulosa
    Acisoma panorpoides
    Lestes praemorsus
    Agriocnemis nana
    Ceriagrion cerinorubellum
    Indothemis limbata
    Rhyothemis phyllis
    Rhyothemis triangularis
    Aethriamanta gracilis
    Neurothemis fluctuans
    Orthetrum sabina
    Trithemis aurora
    Chalybeothemis fluviatilis
    Macrodiplax cora
    Agriocnemis femina
    Trithemis pallidinervis
    Tramea transmarina
    Pantala flavescens
    Rhodothemis rufa
    Epophthalmia vittigera
    Ictinogomphus decoratus
    Pseudothemis jorina
    Crocothemis servilia

    Golf Link Boardwalk
    Orchithemis pulcherrima
    Tyriobapta torrida
    Podolestes orientalis
    Vestalis species
    Orthetrum chrysis
    Euphaea impar
    Rhyothemis obsolescens
    Nesoxenia lineata

    This was a walk led by Mr. Tang from the Nature Society Singapore. There were quite a group of people that came for the walk and learnt together some common species and how different dragonflies have different habits and habitats.

    Along the walk we saw many Tramea transmarina and also Pantala flavescens, the two major migratory species to be found in Singapore. These species arrive in South East Asia after following the sea winds down from the Northern hemisphere. They have thus traveled long distances and often can be found in the later part of the year in Singapore, zooming around open land. The Pantala flavescens is in particular rather widespread, being able to be seen even in areas with high rise buildings.

    Some interesting things we saw was the Pseudothemis jorina that was flying in a territory across open reservoir, a fast flyer who surveys the area frequently and is hard to capture on camera. Later we were shocked when we saw that it had fallen into the reservoir and was quite still, in fact, being nibbled at by some small fishes (and later swallowed by a big one). We speculated that a swallow flying in the territory had collided with it and perhaps swept it into the water, as this species of dragonfly is a rather strong flyer generally.

    We then headed into the forest to try to find some forest species, and being rather lucky manage to see a female Euphaea impar, as they are generally harder to find than the male individuals. We also caught sight of a Rhyothemis obsolescens, with its pretty golden shimmering wings. We were lucky to have seen all three Rhyothemis species today.

    Ending our walk shortly before Jelutong Tower, we managed to catch a glimpse of the big turtle in the stream nearby (a really really huge one!).

    There will hopefully be other such Odonata walks in Singapore in the future! A casual walk with a group of people eager to learn more is always a good place to start becoming an odonut, even if you know nothing about Odonata at all (:

    Monday, July 13, 2009


    Our school pond has been changed recently into a clearer one with hydrillas in it and other water plants that are generally good for odonata. It was originally muddy and inhabited only by turtles but now it has guppies and even three Prodasineura microcephallum!
    Applause please. I'm going to haunt that place often.

    Saturday, May 2, 2009

    Panti Forest

    Panti Forest, Kota Tinggi, Malaysia
    Species seen:
  • Heliogomphus kelantanensis (?)
  • Macrogomphus parallelogramma (?)

  • Libellulidae
  • Lyriothemis biappendiculata
  • Rhyothemis obsolescens

  • Zygoptera--Damselflies
  • Vestalis gracilis/amoena/amethystina

  • Chlorocyphidae
  • Heliocypha biforata
  • Libellago stigmatizans
  • Sundacypha petiolata

  • Megapodagrionidae
  • Rhinagrion mima

  • Euphaeidae
  • Dysphaea dimidiata
  • Euphaea impar

  • Protoneuridae
  • Prodasineura laidlawii

  • This few weeks, Professor M. H. visited Singapore. We took the chance to go up to Kota Tinggi in Johor with him and Mr. Tang on Labour Day.
    We went into a stream in Panti Forest. The sand banks on this stream made it a good breeding spot for Gomphids, in fact, we spotted a few zooming up and down the river, however, we were unable to identify it as Prof. M.H. was not with us at that time. However, my brother found a teneral Leptogomphus species.

    The few odonata species I saw today were all new to me. I also learned to identify a few species.
    Prodasineura laidlawii can be differed from the other Prodasineura species as the end of the abdomen is almost totally blue, and the blue marks on the thorax are thin as compared to the other P. species.

    There were many Heliocypha biforata flying around the place. There is a obvious pink patch above the light blue thorax, completed by a black abdomen with slight blue markings.

    We also observed quite a few Libellago stigmatizans male species flying about. They generally prefer to perch near the water surface, not unlike the Libellago aurantiaca. There were two males engaged in territorial fights, and we also found a dead one in a spider web. A female was ovipositing, with the male flying over it as protection. The white legs of the male were clearly seen to be extended when it was circling.

    When we branched off into another side stream, this one with water not as clear and more underwater growth, we found several species of Sundacypha petiolata, including two males engaged in territorial fights and a mating pair.

    Drepanosticta quadrata was collected at this stream when Prof M. H., Mr. Tang and my father visited it last week. It is therefore not endemic to only Singapore, as previously thought, but also to Southern Johor.

    We visited 陈伯伯果园 to clean up and also visit the dogs and cats :)
    There were 3 baby kittens! (opened eyes already haha.)
    There were also two young dogs. The puppies from the previous visit have all grown up and none seem to recognize us except for the king, which we've known since it was very young (and far from the king position).

    A fruitful trip!