Coeliccia doisuthepensis Asahina, 1984

In August 2011, I made a 3-day motorbike trip to Mai Chau (northern Vietnam, 150 km east of Hanoi), in Hoa Binh Province - that borders the Laotian Province of Hua Phan.

As I was searching a way to enter Pu Luong Natural Reserve, an area of outstanding beauty, I noticed a forest streamlet on the right of the road, at an elevation of about 1,100 m. After 10 minutes exploring the place, I bumped into a male Coeliccia resting on a leaf, 50 cm above the water. I knew it was a new species for me straight away due to the 3 pairs of blue markings on the synthorax dorsum. Later, I spotted 2 or 3 other males. I didn't get to see any females.

Almost certain it was an interesting species (I mean : not only interesting for me, the beginner!), I decided, exceptionally, to collect voucher specimens that were passed later to Dô Manh Cuong. Searching the web once home (not the best ID method, I know...), I identified it as Coeliccia doisuthepensis on the basis of color pattern and markings. One week later, the ID was confirmed by Dô Manh Cuong and R.A. Dow after examination of the caudal appendages and penile organ (a much better method!).

This is Vietnam's first record of this species. The country list of Coeliccia gets longer almost every year (around 14-15 species currently), with the discovery of species new to science or already known in neighboring countries (China, Laos, Thailand…).

Male synthorax bears 3 pairs of pale azure stripes on the front : one anterior pair close to the dorsal carina, another upper but smaller pair ; the third one, on the anterior border of mesepimeron close to the humeral suture, is reduced to 2 narrow lines.

Caudal appendages dull yellowish. In the superiors, the ventral spine is situated rather distally with a sharp spine directed inwardly.

Lateral view

Dorso-lateral view

The penile organ is of curious shape, ending in a horned head and without any filament at all.

Penile organ
(left : sketch of Syoziro Asahina in A list of Odonata from Thailand. Part VI. Platycnemididae - Genus Coeliccia)

Coeliccia doisuthepensis is known in northern Thailand (Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai), Laos and now northern Vietnam, and is likely to occur in Myanmar and southern China.

I found it along a slow-flowing shady streamlet (low gradient, 50 cm wide) running through disturbed secondary growth montane forest in karst terrain. The area was grazing by buffaloes and over-exploited by local people - many hamlets around.
Not really the kind of place particularly promising for Odonata!

(Nota : photos of caudal appendages and penile organ by Dô Manh Cuong, from the specimens collected at Mai Chau).


Coeliccia uenoi Asahina, 1997

Coeliccia uenoi is a large-sized Coeliccia species I have seen 2 or 3 times at Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh Province, northern Vietnam, 120 km southwest of Hanoi), and only males.

The male is colored black and blue with striking yellow last abdominal segments and appendages. 
Prothorax entirely black.
Synthorax black, both sides being striped with three broad azure blue markings.
The mesepisternum bears a pair of patches covering about 2/3 of its length.
Abdomen black from S1 to S8, segments 3-6 provided with pale terminal ring. Two terminal segments dull yellow, each with a dark ventral marking.

Frontal view ot the synthorax showing the
particular shape of the 2 patches

Caudal appendages dull yellowish, superiors much shorter than the inferiors.
In the superior appendages, ending in an angulated head (in dorsal view), the usual ventral spine is situated at about 2/3 of their length.
Inferior appendages with an incurved tip.

Lateral view

Dorso-lateral view

Coeliccia uenoi is a "speciality" of Cuc Phuong National Park. Discovered in 1995 by a team from Tokyo Science Museum, this species has never been recorded outside the park's boundaries.

Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest National Park in Vietnam. It protect one of the few remaining primary lowland forests of the country. Once covered much of Vietnam up to elevation of 600-700 m, these forests are now rare and greatly threatened because their accessibility places them under the greatest pressure from exploitation, agriculture and development. The vast majority of them are replaced now by scrub and secondary forest.

The photo above show the place where I saw one individual (August 2012) : a flat, shallow, slow-flowing stream under heavy tree cover (at ca. 350m).
Many streams of this limestone karst forest area dry up during the dry season - I don`t know if it is the case of this one.
I also observed along this stream some Coeliccia scutellum and many individuals of a recently described Coeliccia that I don't know the scientific name yet (article not yet published in the International Journal of Odonatology). Post about this Coeliccia sp. will come soon!