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.

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