Dragons and Damsels

During a recce to Baroon Pocket Dam for the forthcoming QNC excursion, we found two of southeast Queensland’s most beautiful dragonflies.

The first is the Fiery Skimmer Orthetrum villosovittatum which is very common in southeast Queensland. It is distinguished by a red abdomen, narrowing just behind the thorax. The photograph shows a male and a female in the tandem position. The female has curved her abdomen around to the male’s secondary genetalia on the second and third abdomenal segments where the sperm are transferred.

The second photograph is of a Sapphire Rockmaster Diphlebia coerulescens. This is identified by its blue thorax and largely black abdomen and a dusky suffusion extending over two thirds of the wing. It has a more restricted habitat than the Fiery Skimmer, being only found on clear mountain streams. It is actually a damselfly in the Suborder Zygoptera, characterised by fairly equal fore- and hind-wings and the eyes being far apart on its head.

The Fiery Skimmer is a true dragonfly, Suborder Anisoptera with the hindwing being larger than the forewing (aniso = different, pteron = wing) and the eyes being close together.

Ric Nattrass has produced a very useful fieldguide to the dragonflies of southeast Queensland. You can get more details from his website http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_dragons/. The QNC library will be getting a copy of this book soon.

Peter and Leith Woodall

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