Archineura hetaerinoides (Fraser, 1933)

In June 2012, I was very surprised to find this stonking species  - a new one for me - along a stream already prospected two times in 2011. But it was in mid-september, and the only large sized calopterygid that I had spotted at that time was Calopteryx coomani. 

With the large white patches at each wing base - which do not cover more than 30% of the wing -, the male Archineura hetaerinoides is unmistakable.

A wary species, metallic green Calopterygid of gigantic proportions with white basal wing colouration. A spectacular sight!

Dramatic backlighting...

Territorial dispute
With no female yet present, I saw two males vying for territory. The perched male - the happy owner of a big rock - raised and arched his abdomen (photo below; the other male is above, outside the frame), whilst fluttering his wings, showing the four white patches.

The female has bright orange wings. The first one I spotted was really skittish and flew away at the slightest movement.

After 30 minutes playing hide-and-seek, I only got distant shots (3-4 meters, too far for my 100 mm lens, even for a such big guy). Really difficult to get close to. As I was thinking "Arrgh..., what a pity that I didn't bring my 400 mm lens !" - the one I use for birds -, this nice damselfly landed on a leaf one meter away, right in front of me !

Continuing downstream I encountered an another female, this one not shy at all, and I could approach quite closely.

Wing-clapping just after landing

I should try more backlit shots; with odonata, the detail in the wings catching the light is always lovely. The backlit and bright conditions were a little tricky photographically, but I'm quite pleased with these!

Archineura hetaerinoides is known from Laos, Vietnam and southern China, in both lowland and upland sites, but is very localized. 
This rare species is one of the largest Caloptera, equaled only by Archineura incarnata (Karsh, 1892) from China and Echo maxima Martin, 1904 from northern Vietnam - the latter not recorded since its description in 1904 !

In Vietnam, Archineura hetaerinoides has been found in the north, center and south of the country: Sa Pa (Lao Cai Province), Cao Bang town and Thanh Cong community (Cao Bang Province), Mau Son mountain (Lang Son Province), Tam Dao National Park (Vinh Phuc Province), Son Kim community (Ha Tinh Province), Kon Ka Kinh National Park (Gia Lai Province), Xuân Son National Park (Phu Tho Province)...

Those photos were taken at the feet of the Tam Dao mountain range, along a swift, open rocky stream with many boulders, in a secondary forest area (alt. 250m a.s.l, photo below).

A good range of open and rocky lotic habitat species was encountered there included Zygonyx iris, Lamelligomphus camelus, Gomphidia kruegeri, Paragomphus capricornis, Euphaea decorata, E. masoni, E. guerini, Aristocypha fenestrella, Onychothemis testacea...

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