Damselfly (5) – Agriocnemis Femina

Family : Coenagrionidae
Common Name : Variable Wisp
Status : Common
Location : Segar Road, Toa Payoh Town Gardens, Jurong Woods, Holland Woods

This is a tiny damselfly about 22mm in size.  It is the smallest damselfly species that I have seen in Singapore, so far. A confusing species because of colour changes with maturity.

(Immature Female - Segar Road, Jan 2009)


The immature male is green and orange but on maturity it becomes dark with heavy pruinescence on the head and synthorax. Females is red in colour.

(Immature male - Segar Road, Jan 2009)


This species usually perch lowly on grass and it was quite difficult getting a parallel shot. Also, they are not easy to get close.  The best time to photograph them is early in the morning when they are less active.

(Mature male - Holland Woods, 14 Mar 2009)


Afternote: The smallest damselfly is A. Nano which was spotted at Lornie Trail on 15 Sep 2010.  A very young female A. Femina (see below) was also sighted on this day.

(Very young female - 15 Sep 2010)


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Damselfly (4) – Podolestes Orientalis

Family : Megapodagrionidae)
Common Name : Blue-spotted Flatwings
Status : Common forest species
Location : Venus Drive, Macritchie Nature Trail, Chestnut Ave Nature Trail

The Podolestes orientalis is a common forest damselfly. It was first recorded in Singapore in 1997 and commonly known as the Flatwings Damselfly.  It is moderately built which likes to perch with its wings open up like a dragonfly.

(Female – Venus Drive, 5 Nov 2008)

I first spotted it perching on a twig in the middle of in a small muddy pool of water. Looking from about a metre away, I had actually mistaken it as a dragonfly because of its flat wings and relatively bigger than the normal damselfly. It was not easy to set my tripod in the muddy water and quite difficult to move around as the surrounding area is small. Fortunately, the subject was cooperative which allowed me to get some close-up shots. As expected, the lighting in the forest was not ideal and since this was the first time that I was shooting under such poor light condition, I had quite a difficulty photographing it and I just tried my luck by trial and error.

(Close-up shot of Podolestes-orientalis)

I initially thought it was a uncommon species but when I explored more into the various forest, I realised that they are actually quite common.

(Mating – Venus Drive, 18 Jul 2009)

(A male guarding a ovipositing female)

Dragonfly (3) – Gynacantha Dohrni

Family : Aeshnidae
Common Name : Spear-tail Duskhawker
Status : Uncommon
Location : Venus Drive

This is an uncommon forest dragonfly.  It was first recorded in Singapore in 1979 and sequenetly in 2005. It is relatively large in size with attractive green eyes and thorax.

(Male – Venus Drive, 4 Jan 2009)

I first found it in Venus Drive in Jan 2009 at a waterless stream filled with lots of dry leaves and branches. It likes to perch low on twigs, below an observer’s eye-level making it difficult to photograpy.  I usually see them in the late afternoon after 4 pm onwards hanging on lowly at dry branches. It was not easy to get near to this species and I could only manage some record shots.  As at Aug 2010, I have not seen it for more than a year!

(Close-up – Venus Drive, 4 Jan 2009)

Damselfly (3) – Coeliccia Octogesima

Family : Platycnemidae
Common Name : Telephone Sylvan
Status : Common forest species
Location : Venus Drive, Upper pierce, Rifle Range Nature Trail

The Coeliccia octogesima is a common forest species. Unlike most damselflies that I’ve seen, it has a thin body and held its wings apart instead of holding them together vertically. This male species is easily identified by the two telephone shape from the dorsal view of its thorax. The female is similar to the male but the telephone shape is less well defined.

(Male – Venus Drive, 4 Feb 2009)

I first spotted it on 26 Dec 2008 perching very lowly on small patch of grass making it difficult to photograph the side view. I found a mating pair in Feb 09 but it soon separated and perched on a thin branch in small dark stream but it was high enough this time to have a classic side view shot.

(Close-up dorsal view)

This is one of the most cooperative species that I have seen and I have no problem getting a dorsal close-up view.

(Dorsal view close-up)

Dragonfly (2) – Nannophya Pygmaea [小紅蜻蜓]

Family : Libellulidae
Common name : Pygmy Dragonfly
Status : Common
Location : Lornie Trail, Rifle Range Nature Trail, Chestnut Ave, Upper Peirce

Nannophya pygmaea (or pypmy) is one of the smallest dragonflies species in the world and certainly the smallest dragonfly that can be found in Singapore. It has a total length of approximately 15mm long and a wingspan of only about 20mm.  The male is almost entire red particularly on its eyes and body.

(Mature Male – Rifle Range Nature Trail, 20 Feb 2010)

Below is an image of a not fully mature male where the colours are not in complete red yet.

(Not fully Matured Male – Chestnut Ave, 4 Jan 2009)

The young male is yellowish brown in colour:

(Immature male – Chestnut Ave, 4 Jan 2009)

The female is  less commonly seen than the males where its abdomen has bands of brown and white.

(Female – Rifle Range Nature Trail, 29 Sep 2012)

They are very cooperative and photographing them is relatively easy. The challenge is to get a uniform background and a good angle having its wings not covering their faces which I didn’t quite manage to do it for these 3 male images.

Dragonfly (1) – Agrionoptera Sexlineata

Family : Libellulidae
Common Name : Handsome Grenadier
Status : Uncommon
Location : Venus Drive, Macritchie Nature Trail, Dairy Farm Nature Trail, Chestnut Ave Nature Trail

This colourful species is a rare forest dragonfly which I spotted while on my way to search for the metallic green damselfly. It is one of the most beautiful dragonflies that I have sen so far.  The male has blue, black and red segments of abdomen.  The thorax of both sexes is deep metallic green with three yellow stripes on the sides.  The female is slightly larger with orange colour of 6-7 segments of its obdomen.

Unlike other forest dragonflies which often perch on shady or darker areas, the male of this species seems to prefer on bright open space. They usually come out in the afternoon and lighting was not an issue. They are also quite cooperative and I have little problems shooting them.

(Male – Venus Drive, 29 Dec 2008)

(Female – Venus Drive, 6 Jan 2009)

(Male, front view – Venus Drive, 29 Dec 2008)

Damselfly (2) – Vestalis Amethystina

Family : Calopterygidae
Common Name :
Status : Common forest species
Location : Venus Drive, Rifle Range Nature Trail, Upper Peirce, Dairy Farm Nature Park, Bukit Timah Bicycle Trail, etc

This metallic green species is classified as a common forest damselfly but not many of us have seen it or photographed it. I saw my friend, Yi Xiong, captured in June last year at Chestnut Path and since then, it has been on my wish list. I am happy to have finally added it into my damesfly collection which was first spotted at Venus Drive.

(Female Vestalis amethystina – Venus Drive, 16 Sep 09)

What is so unique about this species is that it has one of the most attractive wings. Depending on viewing angle and reflecting sunlight, the clear wings of this damselfly can appear to sparkle with purplish blue colour. It is larger than the common damselflies with big broad wings. It was quite skittish and difficult to get close to it.  I really had a hard time chasing it up from the bushes and down to a small dark stream and vice verse several times. Easily one of my most tiring shoots that I have experienced. It was also not easy to set up my tripod in the stream and the poor lighting did not help. Despite all my efforts, these are the only decent shots that I managed to capture.

(Male – Rifle Range Nature Trail, 11 Feb 2009)

Damselfly (1) – Euphaea Impar

Family : Euphaeidae
Common Name : Blue-sided Satinwing
Status : Uncommon
Locatin : Venus Drive, Rifle Range Nature Trail

This is an uncommon forest damselfly first spotted in Venus Drive. The male is characterised by its bright blue colour at side of thorax, and broad dark patch at the tip of the hind wing.

(Male – Venus Drive, 30 Dec 2008)

The female is less attractive with dull olive thorax. This species like to perch on dried twigs or branches half meter above partially-shaded forest streams, sometimes as high as above 3 metres. The males are more commonly seen than the females.

(Female – Venus Drive, 27 May 2009)

I have seen the male at least 3 times around the same areas that I photographed the metallic green damselfly (Vestalis amethystina) but never had the chance to go near, not even a record shot. The reason is that once it flew off, it is very hard to spot where it next landed because of its dark-coloured body which blends nicely in the low-light surrounding. I saw it for the 4th time and I was determined at get a better shot. I decided to fix on my 1.4 Teleconvertor this time and got into the stream very carefully. I tried not to create any noise each time I stepped into the water, which may scare away the damsel (based on past 3 encounters). Soon I was one metre away from the damsel and I took many record shots.

When I had enough of it, I moved closer. To my surprise, the damsel liked me and allowed me to take various close-up shots. The only problem was that I had little room to move around to adjust the composition or get parallel to it as the stream is narrow and the difficulty in placing the tripod. Anyway, I got the shots I wanted and went home happy.

(Male side view close-up – Venus Drive, 30 Dec 2008)

(Female side view close-up – Venus Drive, 27 May 2009)