Sunday, November 08, 2009

Neurothemis fluctuans; Trithemis aurora

How do dragonflies recognise members of their own species? Recognition of conspecifc is primarily through visual cues for dragonflies. They can recognise flight style, size, colours and patterns as well as ultraviolet reflection and optical density. The ability to recognise their own species is important as it enables dragonflies to defend territory and for a male to find the right female.

But sometimes, mistakes do occur. On a recent sunny morning in Singapore Botanic Gardens, a whole lot of dragonflies were active. There was about six species present and the area was buzzing. It seemed like an orgy was taking place as males grasped females for copulation and inseminated females were ovipositing. The males were also fighting each other for the females. Suddenly a tandem pair crashed onto a plant. A male Neurothemis fluctuans had grasped a female Trithemis aurora. The pair made several attempts to fly off but failed.
Tandem link between different dragonflies species is prevented because of the incompatibility between a male’s anal appendages and a different female’s head. It is like a lock and key system; the right key must fit the right lock. In this case, it is obvious the male N. fluctuans couldn’t grasp the female properly. After several tries, the male realised its mistake and released the female.
Both Neurothemis fluctuans and Trithemis aurora are very common species here. Both species are sexually dimorphic. Mature N. fluctuans males are reddish while the females are light brownish. For T. aurora, mature males are pink while females are yellowish.

Pictures taken at: Singapore Botanic Gardens, 2009; Toa Payoh Town Park, 2009 & 2008.


Corbet, P. S. & S. J. Brooks, 2008. Dragonflies. HarperCollins Publishers, London, UK.


C.Y. Choong said...

It is alway great to see you post something about dragonflies. Keep it up! :)


matinggeckos said...

Hi Ian,

Thanks for your encouragement.