There are the Argia damsels, the most speciose genus of New World Coenagrionids, and then there is Telebasis, with almost 60 described species the second most speciose genus. Telebasis species come basically in two flavours, red and blue.
In REGUA up to four species have now been identified, all belonging to the reddish species. And with their bright red abdomens these tiny damsels are reminiscent of the precious blood coral from the oceans. Although they can all be recognized in hand by the shape of their appendages, it is in fact possible to separate them in the field. To work out the field characteristics of Odonata to aid their identification is one of the main purposes of our work at REGUA.
When visiting the wetlands at REGUA the most common of these four species, T. corallina, is hard to miss when you know where to look. As all Telebasis species, it is relatively inconspicuous, mostly staying low in the grasses along the verge of the wetland and amongst the emergent vegetation in the wetlands. But when you take the time to peruse such places you realise it is in fact all over the place.
The third species is T. griffinii. It is very similar to T. corallina, although somewhat smaller. Apart from the dorsal side of the thorax, which is marked by a more diffuse dark cloud along the dorsal ridge instead of the two clear-cut straight lines of T. corallina, it differs in having a red snout, not lime-green. It seems to inhabit even better quality ponds, with lush emergent and floating vegetation and forested edges. At REGUA it has been found at two locations. These records are of note, as the species had not been recorded at Rio de Janeiro state before.
The last species to mention has been recorded at only one location and is probably rare in Rio de Janeiro state. This is T. carmesina, another species very similar to T. corallina, but with broader clear-cut stripes along the dorsal ridge of the thorax. Like T. corallina, its snout is greenish, but the ventral side of the thorax is whiter and the appendages are differently shaped. That is difficult to establish in the field unless it is caught and because it is so similar to T. corallina it may be under recorded. Like its brothers and sisters it keeps to the emergent vegetation along the edge of ponds.
If we take a quick look at the relationships in the genus, T. corallina was recorded together with all three other species, T. griffinii was seen with both T. corallina and T. filiola, but T. carmesina only with T. corallina. There were no bushes and trees along the verge of the pond where it was found, which may explain the absence of the other two. Now, the million dollar question is: which congeners did T. filiola occur with?