Sympetrum hypomelas (Selys, 1884)

Many tour groups and independent tourists travel from Hanoi to Sa Pa (Lao Cai Province, northwestern Vietnam), principally to visit this picturesque mountain town (at 1650m a.s.l.) and its bustling market, where many of minority ethnic groups gather.

From a naturalist’s point of view, however, the journey’s highlight is a chance to visit the Hoang Lien National Park, which covers 25.000 ha in the Hoang Lien Son Range. This granite formation is the southeasternmost extension of the Himalaya Range. Much of it lies above 2000m, with a number of peaks reaching 2500-3000m, including the Mount Fan Xi Pan, the tallest mountain in Vietnam - and even in Indochina - at 3143m.

In this area, fauna and flora show Sino-Himalayan affinities - the Himalayan Libellulid Sympetrum hypomelas is a good example.

A pair at an ovipositing spot. The male flies above the female and drives away 
other males who may want to mate with her.

These shots of Sympetrum hypomelas were taken at Hoang Lien National Park in August, at 1900m, at a small marsh surrounded by forest.
This is a handsome black, yellow and red Libellulid - a very striking colour combination!

A pair in tandem

Male with labrum, face, frons suffused with bright red. Pterothorax reddish on dorsum, with a broad black humeral stripe; laterally two broad bright citron-yellow stripes separated by a broad black stripe. Wings hyaline, with extreme bases amber-yellow. 

 A resting male
Abdomen bright reddish above, black beneath, this colour overlapping on to sides from segments 2, 3, or 4 and very broadly so from segments 6 to 10.  

Female adult
Female closely resembling the male, but pterothorax golden-brown on dorsum, face amber and markings of abdomen very different than those of male : there is an additional subdorsal broad black stripe extending from base of segment 2 to segment 7, where it becomes confluent with the black of underside and enclose a yellow stripe.

Female not fully mature : abdomen not yet reddish above

A newly emerged female

Sympetrum hypomelas is a widespread species found in eastern India, Nepal, China (Tibet), northern Thailand (Loei, Chiang Mai), Myanmar and Bangladesh.

To my knowledge, this attractive Libellulid is a new record for the Vietnamese fauna.
The site where these shots were taken. The other species spotted in this area include, amongst others, Ceriagrion fallax and the rare Cordulid Somatochlora dido - the latter at the edge of the swamp forest (on the right).

 Sa Pa (1650 a.s.l.), in the North-West Vietnam highlands. This  hill-station town lies in the Hoang Lien Son Range, southeasternmost extension of the Himalaya Range. 
This area is made up of mid- and high-elevation forests, scrub and grasslands.

In this area, the avifauna also shows strong Sino-Himalayan affinities.
Photo : a stunning male Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis).

3 commentaires:

  1. Superbes photos, (comme d'hab....)

    A bientôt


  2. More amazing photos, Sebastien! This species is also found in Thailand (Loei and Chiang Mai). Keep up the amazing work! Oh, a quick question: What lens / lighting / camera set up do you use? I can never get anywhere near your standard of photo in the forest!



  3. Hi Dennis,

    Thanks for the information, indeed S. hypomelas is also known from Thailand, I forgot!
    I use quite basic photo equipment : Canon 600D, macro lens 100mm and 580EX flash. No tripod or monopod - not enough space on my motorbike! I began to use flash this year : easier to get clean shots in jungle (higher shutter speed, lower ISO), but harder to get beautiful bokeh I think. These shots of S. hypomelas in flight were taken without flash, at 1/2000s.