Category Archives: Dragonflies and damselfies

Dragonfly tour late January – February 2020 turns up fabulous result

First photo of a copula of Cinnamon Flatwing <em>Heteragrion sp. </em> along the Green Trail (© Tom Kompier)
First photo of a copula of Cinnamon Flatwing Heteragrion sp. along the Green Trail (© Tom Kompier)

Paul Hopkins and Magnus Billqvist stayed at the REGUA lodge from Jan 23 until Feb 13. During almost the first half of their trip they were joined by Agnes Ludwig and Tom Kompier. The weather was somewhat wet and cold, but nevertheless the tour turned up 152 species out of the 208 that have now been recorded from the Guapiacu catchment. The discovery of a new damsel for the REGUA list, Aceratobasis macilenta, was very exciting, but there were several other remarkable records or developments.

The swamp at the bottom of the hill on which the lodge is situated, near the office buildings, was wet throughout the stay. It is still the only confirmed site for Brown-striped Spreadwing Lestes tricolor in the area, but holds easily 25 species within its 30×15  m area. Amongst these are sought after species like the Flame-tip Telagrion longum and Brazilian Blue-eye Anatya januaria, both often found emerging there, but it now also holds a good population of Caribbean Duskhawker Triacanthagyna caribbea and the rarely encountered Silver-clouded Dragonlet Erythrodiplax laurentia. This little area is constantly evolving and never ceases to amaze.

The wetland itself is also evolving, with some of the pioneer species that were very common in previous years losing ground to species that likely require less disturbed habitat. This means that the Erythemis species, although still present, are much scarcer. Several years back Pin-tailed Pondhawk E. plebeja would pick off the flies accompanying Ode lovers at virtually every step, but now you have to search for it. Rainpool Spreadwing Lestes forficula, previously abundant and one of the commonest species, was almost completely gone. On the other hand, Guiana Spiderlegs Planiplax phoenicura is now really common and has been joined by the rarer Scarlet Spiderlegs Planiplax arachne, and previously common Bow-tailed Dasher Micrathyria catenata has been largely replaced by Square-spotted Dasher M. ocellata.

Silver-clouded Dragonlet &lt;em&gt;Erythrodiplax laurentia&lt;/em&gt; female at the Large Pond at Vecchi (© Tom Kompier)
Silver-clouded Dragonlet Erythrodiplax laurentia female at the Large Pond at Vecchi (© Tom Kompier)
The rare and enigmatic Mantled Skimmer Edonis helena at Vecchi (© Tom Kompier)

At the nearby forest fragment of Onofre Cunha, the recently described Regua Pincertip Forcepsioneura regua was still regular, and exciting as always.

The Green Trail up to the Waterfall was excellent as usual. It turned out to be a particularly good year for the Long-tailed Bromeliad Guard Leptagrion perlongum with dozens seen at the beginning of the trail. Further up a copula of Cinnamon Flatwing Heteragrion sp. was a first, and even more exciting was that is was seen to subsequently oviposit in a shallow forest stream, verifying its suspected habitat.

The fishponds at Vecchi remain excellent, although the Large Pond seems to suffer from disturbance. This possibly explains the apparent complete absence of Slender Redskimmer Rhodopygia hollandi, which used to be a common species here. During our visits we observed a very late Green Forceptail Phyllocycla pallida, which previously had not been recorded after early December. A female Silver-clouded Dragonlet Erythrodiplax laurentia here was another surprise. The small ponds again turned up such excellent species as the enigmatic Mantled Skimmer Edonis helena.

One of the most exciting observations was done at the Tres Picos area, where several Chagas’s Emeralds Neocordulia carlochagasi was observed patrolling. This area appears to be a good location for this rare species, with observations in several years now. Another specialty of this area is White-fronted Sylph Macrothemis capitata, which has now been found consistently for several years at the start of the trail up.

Although not achieving the maximum score of the 2018 tour (166), partly because fewer locations were visited and partly because of weather and luck, the result proved once more that any visitor in the right season can expect to see more species of dragonfly here than recorded from the whole of Europe, and with much more ease.

Download the complete tour report here.

The field guide A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil is available for sale at the lodge and online. See the publications page for details.

Chagas's Emerald <em>Neocordulia carlochagasi</em> at Tres Picos (© Tom Kompier)
Chagas’s Emerald Neocordulia carlochagasi at Tres Picos (© Tom Kompier)
First photo of female Ivory-fronted Sylph <em>Macrothemis capitata</em> at Tres Picos (© Tom Kompier)
First photo of female Ivory-fronted Sylph Macrothemis capitata at Tres Picos (© Tom Kompier)

Aceratobasis macilenta (Lesser Pendant) – a new species of damselfly for REGUA!

Handsome Aceratobasis macilenta male, Vecchi, 5 February 2020 (© Paul Hopkins)
And the no less wonderful female Aceratobasis macilenta, Vecchi, 5 February 2020 (© Paul Hopkins)

On 26 January Tom Kompier, accompanied by fellow Odonatologists Magnus Billqvist, Paul Hopkins and Agnes Ludwig, visited the large pond at Vecchi, where he caught and photographed a fresh female of a damselfly species unknown to him. Back at the lodge the riddle was solved using the excellent Damselfly Genera of the New World by Garrison et al. (2010).

This mystery damsel was a member of the genus Aceratobasis. This genus is endemic to the Atlantic Forest, with four known species largely restricted to the lowlands. Although recorded from Rio de Janeiro state, it had so far not been confirmed from REGUA.

I quickly wrote to Natalia von Ellenrieder, who provided a paper she wrote with Rosser Garrison in 2008 with additional information on the genus. The specimen turned out to be Aceratobasis macilenta, the smaller of two very similar species. As these damsels, unlike many of their fellow Coenagrionids, hang of leaves and twigs, “Pendant” seems an apt name.

A second visit a few days later failed to turn up more specimens, but luckily a third visit on 5 February by Magnus, Paul and Susan Loose produced a mature male and a mature female, of which Paul was able to take some great photos. It looks like a small population has gained a foothold in the area!

This is species 208 for the reserve odonata list.

New damselfly species discovered at REGUA by Tom Kompier

A new damselfly to science – Forcepsioneura regua sp. nov. (©Tom Kompier)

We are delighted to announce that a new Damselfly species for science of the Forcepsioneura genus found at REGUA by Tom Kompier has been named Forcepsioneura regua sp. after the reserve. This is one of two new damselfly species described by Dr. Ângelo Pinto with Tom as co-author in their paper In honor of conservation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: description of two new damselflies of the genus Forcepsioneura discovered in private protected areas (Odonata: Coenagrionidae), published in the zoological journal Zoologia.

Tom’s contribution to our knowledge of dragonflies and damselflies has been magnificent and provides valuable evidence of the importance of this reserve. He started his research in 2012, making several visits during the varying Neotropical seasons, travelling from the Netherlands to REGUA throughout 2013 and identifying 204 species in this region. Tom was supported by Dr. Ângelo Pinto and Professor Alcimar Carvalho of the Natural History Museum/UFRJ. This resulted in the publication of A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil (see details on our publications page).

The principle difference between dragonflies and damselflies is the position of the wings when resting. Dragonfly wings lie transversal and damselfly wings lie flat alongside their abdomen. 204 species have been recorded at the reserve and REGUA hosts annual visits to see the odonate and in an eight day visit it is possible to see at least 160 species!

Congratulations and thank you Tom for the magnificent contribution your work has given us and you have inspired us to continue to develop studies in ants, butterflies and spiders.

Highlights of successful dragonfly tour 2018

Male of Progomphus virginiae in hand, splendid addition to the reserve list (© Tom Kompier)

A group of dragonfly enthusiasts from the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden occupied the lodge at REGUA between 5-20 January to look for dragonflies and damselflies with Tom Kompier, the author of our field guide on these winged gems – A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil.

Immature male Nehalennia minuta, new for REGUA! (© Henrik Korzen)

REGUA is one of the world’s best dragonfly hotspots in terms of diversity, and the group was not disappointed. With a total of 166 species seen, the tour even surpassed previous tours.

Not only were there second records of Lestes tricolor and Micrathyria spinifera, and good views of the critically endangered Minagrion ribeiroi and its rare cousin Minagrion waltheri, the group also managed photos of two species not previously documented with photos in nature. Edonis helena is a rarely seen small dragonfly from northern Argentina only recently known to extend into Brazil. A small population occurs in the area. The second was Macrothemis capitata, rediscovered by Tom several years ago at Salinas, but now found in the The Três Picos State Park at the top of our watershed.

Best of all, the group found two species new to the reserve list. The first was an exciting tiny damsel, Nehalennia minuta, found at the old wetland in the reserve. This species occurs widely in South America, but is not often found. And the second was Progomphus virginiae, a beautiful little gomphid found at a forested rocky stream, described from Santa Catharina State. The reserve odonata list now stands at 207 species!

Male of Edonis helena, a rare photo opportunity! (© Tom Kompier)
First in nature photo of the very rare Macrothemis capitata (© Tom Kompier)
Female of Nehalennia minuta (© Tom Kompier)
Male of Progomphus virginiae occupying a rock in the stream (© Tom Kompier)

3rd dragonfly and damselfly tour a resounding success!

Tom Kompier leads a successful team (© Raissa Knupp)

An eminent group of European dragonfly and damselfly specialists converged at REGUA this month to see their beloved species under the professional guidance of Tom Kompier from the Netherlands.

Tom (dressed in the National garb right) visited regularly over two years under the auspices of Rio de Janeiro National History Museum, and wrote the definitive guide book A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Órgãos (avaliable to buy on the Publications page), identifying an amazing 204 species, one of which is new for science and will named after REGUA!

This is the third organised dragonfly and damselfly tour at REGUA and the group saw 147 species in their eight days here. The weather in the first two days wasn’t helpful, but the group not only cherished seeing their species but loved their time enjoying the REGUA hospitality.

Thank you for coming and sharing your enthusiasm of these quality habitat indicator species!

Great success for Miguel

Professor Carlos with Miguel (© Nicholas Locke)
Professor Carlos with Miguel (© Nicholas Locke)

Miguel Ferreira de Conceição is a young lad from the local community of Matumbo who has a passion for nature. He comes from a humble background and is now 21 years old, but since joining the Young Ranger Programme seven years ago, he found his desire for the future – wanting to work in tourism.

REGUA’s resident teacher Professor Carlos has always been supportive and encouraged him, and a month ago Miguel participated in a test that offered opportunities for a professional “Park visitor guide” course organized by the State Government Institute (INEA). We were all thrilled that of the 50 applicants, Miguel took third place; a testimony to the value and contribution of REGUA’s Young Ranger Programme.

Miguel has started the course and is rightly proud of his achievements. It is rewarding and very satisfying for us to see direct life-changing benefits that can reach deep into other people lives.

Miguel loves dragonflies and as a reward we presented REGUA publication A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos so Miguel can brush up his knowledge of these special creatures and guide future guests wanting to see them.

Amendment to the REGUA odonata list

In the recently published field guide on the odonata of REGUA, A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, the scientific name of the Blue-wedged Dancer is given as Argia claussenii. Rosser Garrison pointed out that this in fact is A. croceipennis, therefore we have amended our odonata list. We are indebted to Rosser for sharing drawings and scans of both species with us that support his view.

The appendages of these two species are quite similar and there are also considerable similarities in colour pattern. However, under the microscope the difference in the shape of the cerci (placement of ventral tooth) can be clearly seen.

In the field there are luckily also a few differences that help identify the species. Argia claussenii has clear wings, whereas those of A. croceipennis are amber colored, and A. claussenii has an occipital bar, whereas A. croceipennis does not. These characteristics are very much in line with the species occurring in fast flowing and rocky streams in the foothills of REGUA. Below are examples of both species, kindly made available by Rosser.

garrison-plates

The field guide A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil is available for sale at the lodge and online. See the publications page for details.

Orders from other countries should be sent directly to Tom Kompier at kompierintokyo@yahoo.com. Copies will also be available from the REGUA stand at the British Birdfair on 21st – 23rd August at Rutland.

The new odonata book is available in the UK

dragonflies-damselflies-front-coverTom Kompier’s excellent new book A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos is now available in the UK from Alan Martin. This book describes all 204 species known from the REGUA area and is illustrated with 560 photos.

Please send a cheque for £30.50 which includes postage and packing, made out to the ‘Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust’ with your name and address to Alan at Alureds Oast, Northiam, East Sussex TN31 6JJ.

Orders from other countries should be sent directly to Tom Kompier at kompierintokyo@yahoo.com.

Dragonfly News article: REGUA – the world’s best dragonfly hotspot?

article-dragonfly-news-67With 204 species of dragonfly and damselfy now identified at REGUA, the Reserve is a strong contender for having the highest odonata diversity of any site on Earth.

In the spring issue of Dragonfly News, the magazine of the British Dragonfly Society, Dave Smallshire writes about the highlights of a recent dragonfly tour to REGUA that saw the group finding 42 species at the wetland in the first three hours on their first day, and an amazing 166 species during the two week trip, including several rarities!

Dragonfly News is available in the UK to British Dragonfly Society members. Details on how to join and get a hold of the article can be found on their website.

New REGUA publication: Dragonflies & Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos

dragonflies-damselflies-front-coverWe are thrilled to be able to announce the imminent publication of our new REGUA publications book A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos.

The book has been written by Tom Kompier and describes all of the 204 known species from REGUA and its surroundings. Illustrated with 560 photos and an additional 125 plates, we think this is a milestone in the study and observation of this stunning group of insects.

Publication is due in April. For pre-orders or additional information, please contact Tom Kompier directly at kompierintokyo@yahoo.com.