Coeliccia mingxiensis Xu, 2006

Coeliccia mingxiensis was recorded from Tam Dao "National Park" in 2009 by Dô Manh Cuong along a swift, rocky stream in a relatively untouched forest area (alt. 800m a.s.l). Specimens were compared with the original description and also confirmed by Xu Qi-han, who described C. mingxiensis based on a single teneral male specimen from Mingxi, Fujian, China.

The male of this species is remarkable for its bright yellow hook-shaped marking on dorsum synthorax. According to Dô Manh Cuong, this marking becomes red violet with age. 
The side of synthorax is largely yellow with a short reddish stripe.

The last abdominal segments (S10, S9 and distal part of S8) are dirty white, and S9-10 are washed with pale pink.
Caudal appendages are white ivory: the superiors bear a ventral subapical curve and point tooth at about 2/3 of their length (not easy to see, except in ventral view) as well a sharp spine subbasally (dorsal view); the inferiors have a downward apex. In lateral view, superior appendages slightly shorter than the inferiors.

Lateral view

Dorsal view

Ventral view

Until recently Coeliccia mingxiensis was only known from Mingxi (Fujian Province, China) and Tam Dao (northern Vietnam), in montane forests. But in April-May 2015, T. Kompier recorded this species in 2 other northern Vietnam sites: Xuân Son National Park (lowland forest) and Mount Mau Son (montane forest, close to the Chinese border).

At Tam Dao, this species is known along a 100-200m stretch of one single stream. It is quite common there at the right time of year but has never been spotted elsewhere in this mountain range (Dô Manh Cuong pers. comm.). The portion of forest concerned, which is home to other interesting forest-dwellers such as Calopteryx coomani, Noguchiphaea yoshikoae..., is partly surrounded by "su su" fields (known in English as christophine or chayote). Those crops are gaining ground year after year (in conjunction with tourism development) and already adjoining the right bank of the stream. Situated downstream of the Tam Dao Hill Station, this site might also be subject to pollution discharge, especially at the peak tourist season. The stream banks littered with plastic wastes are a very sad and deplorable sight, especially in a so-called "National Park" *.

Tam Dao runs 80 km from north-west to south-east. This isolated granite ridge has more than 20 peaks with the elevation over 1,000m, several surpass 1,300m and the highest, Mount Tam Dao Bac, is 1,592m. This is one of the Vietnamese hotspots for odonatologists, but surveys are generally limited to the most accessible areas - i.e. around the Hill Station. Large parts of this mountain range remain unexplored and are likely to support other populations of Coeliccia mingxiensis - and even new species for science.

* Why "National Park" and not... National Park ? Because this area receive a low level of protection, unworthy of National Park values. Poaching happens everywhere... Bird and mammal richness decreased severely the last decades. This place suffers from the “empty forest syndrome” – i.e. a forest that looks intact, but where most wildlife has been eliminated.
Tam Dao : a wonderful place but a sad story,... except maybe for dragonflies lovers!


Rhipidolestes owadai Asahina, 1997

Male (Hoa Binh Province, ca 500m a.s.l.)

Rhipidolestes owadai is a species I have seen on a very few occasions at Tam Dao and near Thuong Tiên Nature Reserve at Hoa Binh. But in June 2014, at the top of Mau Son mountain, I bumped into dozens of individuals during a one-day trip.

Male and female are easily identifiable by the black synthorax marked with two white-yellowish broad stripes on the sides (the upper one extending on prothorax), and by the frontal parts of the head (labrum, ante- and postclypeus) white.

Male (Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc Province, 900m a.s.l.)

Wings hyaline. Pterostigma greyish, contrasting with the wing apices darkened (male).

Caudal appendages - dorsal view

Female (Tam Dao)

Extremities of the wings of a female. Apices not darkened.

Rhipidolestes owadai is only known from a handful of submontane and montane sites in northern Vietnam (Mau Son mountain, Loc Binh in Lang Son Province, Mount Tam Dao in Vinh Phuc Province and Thuong Tiên Nature Reserve in Hoa Binh Province) and central Laos. The species is likely to also be found in adjacent parts of southern China (Guangxi).

R. owadai has been described based upon specimens collected at Tam Dao.


Coeliccia sasamotoi Do, 2011

Coeliccia sasamotoi is a rather large-sized Coeliccia species, described based from specimens collected in 2004-2005 in central Vietnam (Ha Tinh Province) and central east Laos.

In 2011, I bumped into this species much further north, in the Hoa Binh Province, northern Vietnam (70 km east of Hanoi).

The male is a beautiful black and sky blue damselfly. The dorsum of synthorax bears 2 pairs of markings as follow: one pair of large patches, each one bicoloured (sky blue along the dorsal carina, whitish exteriorly), covering almost half the lower part of mesepisternum, and a much smaller upper pair.
Sides of synthorax with large bluish markings. The abdomen is largely black dorsally, including the last segments, contrasting with the light coloured anal appendages.

Caudal appendages white-yellowish, contrasting with the wholly black last segments.
  • Dorsal view
  • Lateral view : superior appendages thick and club shaped, widening apically, with ventral subapical tooth at 2/3 of their length.

  • Ventral view : inferior appendages of similar colour to superior appendages, with small black tooth at apex, of typical shape for the genus and slightly longer than the superiors.

A pair in tandem

Another pair seen on May 10, 2014, at Xuân Son National Park (Phu Tho Province)

The female is stouter than the male. The mesepisternum bears 2 pairs of yellow stripes, the upper one roughly half the size of the lower one.

Sides of synthorax and prothorax mostly yellow. Posterior pronotal lobe black with a broad raised process.
Abdomen black with yellow markings.

To my knowledge, Coeliccia sasamotoi is at least known from 4 low mountain (400-600 a.s.l.) localities: one in central east Laos (Bolikhamay Province), and 3 in central and northern Vietnam (in Ha Tinh, Hoa Binh and Phu Tho Provinces).

The site where I took almost all of those pictures (in Hoa Binh Province) is situated along a swift, rocky stream in secondary forest (ca 500 a.s.l.). I spotted males resting above small shaded pools in the beds, often in the company of C. acco, C. onoi.

Many thanks to Dô Manh Cuong for sending me his paper about the description of this new species, published in the International Journal of Odonatology.


Coeliccia onoi Asahina,1997

A pair in tandem (Tam Dao, 850m a.s.l)

I must confess that I was not keen on writing this post, because the taxonomic status of C. onoi Asahina, 1997 (described from Tam Dao, northern Vietnam) remains unclear. Indeed, C. onoi resembles closely to Coeliccia cyanomelas Ris, 1912, and according to R.A. Dow, C. onoi is “almost certainly” a junior synonym of C. cyanomelas.

In his description, Asahina did not mention the similarity between those 2 species. It is surprising, because onoi and cyanomelas resemble each other very closely (at least “superficially”, i.e. color pattern and markings) and are likely to share the same habitat (cyanomelas is common in southern China and probably don’t stop at the Vietnamese border…).

The original description and illustrations of Asahina are inadequate, and the type series of C. onoi must be re-examined, consider R.A. Dow.

Until the experts clarify this taxonomic issue (especially by examination and comparison of caudal appendages and penile organ), I decided to keep the name Coeliccia onoi Asahina, 1997 for all the specimens I spotted and photographed around Hanoi (Ba Vi, Cuc Phuong and Tam Dao).

Male (Tam Dao, 850m a.s.l.)

The male is a black an blue damselfly, with striking blue distal abdominal segments. The mesepisternum (dorsum of synthorax) bears a lower pair of short blue stripe, close to the dorsal carina. I spotted also many specimens with a second pair of very small markings on the upper mesepisternum, often reduced to minute blue points. In the Asahina’s description, the holotype male of onoi has only the lower pair of stripes; the upper part of the mesepisternum is entirely black.

In the photos of cyanomelas available on the internet (from China), this upper pair of markings is much more conspicuous than that of “my” specimens.

Male (Hoa Binh Province, 400m a.s.l.)

Sides of synthorax marked with 2 broad blue stripes, the upper one with a square-shaped notch anteriorly.
Abdomen black dorsally; S8 (distal half), S9, S10 and caudal appendages blue dorsally.  Superiors with a ventral subapical tooth at about c.2/3 of their length as well a sharpe spine subbasally ; inferiors have a downward apex.

Lateral view

Dorsal view

A male with 2 pairs of markings on the dorsum of the synthorax, the upper one very small (foothills of Tam Dao)

 Some immature males spotted in June 2013 at Tam Dao :

This species, if distinct from C. cyanomelas, is known from Tam Dao and some other sites of northern Vietnam (rather common sight at Tam Dao, Ba Vi, Cuc Phuong at least), in lowland and mountain forests.

If it is a synonym of C. cyanomelas, then this species is also widespread in China and common over parts of its range at least, with records from Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hong Kong, Sichuan and Zhejiang Provinces, and from Taiwan.


Coeliccia scutellum Laidlaw, 1932

A pair in tandem (Mount Ba Vi, 800m a.s.l.)

Coeliccia tomokunii Asahina, 1997, described from Ba Vi and Cuc Phuong (northern Vietnam), is considered now to be a junior synonym of Coeliccia scutellum.

This is a large-sized brilliant species. The male is deep black and show in profile view 3 chrome yellow stripes : 2 on each sides of the synthorax, and a pair of patches closely adjoining on both sides of dorsal carina. A really stunning fellow!

The female for comparison (note the zigzaged line through ocelli)

S10 and distal part of S9 yellow, caudal appendages also. Superior appendages with inflated head, and almost equal in lenght (or slightly shorter) to the inferior ones.

The female is also a very cute little fellow. Her head is more contrasting than the male and marked with a pale zigzaged line through ocelli. The prothorax is yellow on sides, and bears a developped median standing process (see photo bellow).
Synthorax more yellow on sides than the male, with 2 narrow yellow humeral stripes.
Abdomen brownish with pale yellowish (but sometimes as bright yellow as the synthorax) spots on S8-9.

A pair in tandem at an oviposition site (Tam Dao, 900m a.s.l.)

Female ovipositing in a branch fell in a shallow stream (foothills of Tam Dao)

Coeliccia scutellum is known from Laos, northern Vietnam and Hainan in China.

In the "protected" areas around Hanoi (Tam Dao, Cuc Phuong, Ba Vi), this species is a rather common sight along small, shaded streams in hill and mountain forests.

Site of Coeliccia scutellum, Mount Ba Vi (800m a.s.l.). Small swift-flowing, rocky stream (2-3m wide) with heavy covert, in unexploited secondary forest.
Other Zygoptera spotted (in August) : Coeliccia acco, C. onoi/cyanomelas, Megalestes distans, Atrocalopteryx coomani, Agriomorpha fusca, Protosticta satoi, Devadatta ducatrix, Anisopleura qingyuanensis, Cryptophaea vietnamensis, Noguchiphaea yoshikoae.


Coeliccia acco Asahina, 1997

Coeliccia acco pair in tandem (Mount Ba Vi, 800m a.s.l.)

Coeliccia is one of my favourite genus of damselflies and Coeliccia acco is, with C. scutellum Laidlaw, 1932 and C. onoi Asahina, 1997 (according to R.A. Dow, the latter is "almost certainly" a junior synonym of Coeliccia cyanomelas Ris, 1912), one of the three species of this genus I have spotted the most in the hills and mountains around Hanoi. 
Coeliccia acco has been described from Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh Province, northern Vietnam).

The male is easily recognisable with its blue markings / stripes on the synthorax and the yellow-orange last segments and caudal appendages. 

Male in hand : antehumeral stripes are not straight but slightly curved. In dorsal view, they have a parenthesis-like shape.

Last abdominal segments, dorsal view : S9-10 orange tinted dorsally (posterior part of S8 also but not always I think). Appendages are the same color, the superiors a little shorter than the inferiors. 
With my "simple" camera, I cannot go further into the details about this part of the body - but this is not the purpose of this blog anyway.

The mature female has a pale green antehumeral stripe ; sides of the synthorax with two broad yellow-green stripes.
Abdomen brownish dorsally, last segments spotted with dirty yellow.

 Female ovipositing in a small, shallow pool near a stream (Cuc Phuong National Park)

Coelicia acco is known from northern Vietnam and central Laos. 

As I wrote at the beginning of this post, this species is one of the commonest Coeliccia in the Hanoi area, along streams in lowland and mountain forests.