Dragonflies: Austropetalia tonyana

Damselflies Austroagrion cyane Austroagrion watsoni Austroargiolestes calcaris Austrocnemis splendida Austrolestes annulosus Austrolestes aridus Austrolestes cingulatus Austrolestes io Austrolestes leda Austrolestes psyche Coenagrion lyelli Hemiphlebia mirabilis Ischnura aurora Ischnura heterosticta Pseudagrion microcephalum Xanthagrion erythroneurum Dragonflies Anax papuensis Archaeosynthemis orientalis Austroaeschna ingrid Austroaeschna multipunctata Austroaeschna unicornis Austrogomphus guerini Austropetalia tonyana Austrothemis nigrescens Crocothemis nigrifrons Dendroaeschna conspersa Diplacodes bipunctata Diplacodes haematodes Diplacodes melanopsis Diplacodes trivialis Eusynthemis virgula Hemicordulia australiae Hemicordulia tau Notoaeschna sagittata Orthetrum caledonicum Parasynthemis regina Petalura gigantea Procordulia jacksoniensis Synthemis eustalacta Telephlebia brevicauda
distribution map
Source: ALA

male waiting at waterfall

male head and thorax

male waiting at waterfall

female depositing eggs
more
Common NameAlpine Redspot
FamilyAustropetaliidae
Genus/SpeciesAustropetalia tonyana Theischinger, 1995
Abundance &
Distribution
Found from Canberra to Melbourne but uncommon.
HabitatBreed exclusively at waterfalls and tumbling cascades in forests. They presumably feed in the canopy so are unlikely to be found at waterfalls in cleared land.
DescriptionThis is a reasonably large, dark brown dragonfly with pale yellow, elongated markings along the abdomen and clear, pale stripes along the thorax. There are several red-brown markings along the leading edge of the wings — The spots appear dark brown except with backlighting when they appear red).
This species has been given the now somewhat inaccurate common name of "Alpine Redspot" as originally it was only known from high altitudes (above 600m). Since being described it has however been observed at lower altitudes (I have seen it at Ship Rock Falls, Kurth Kiln Park, at around 280m elevation).
Similar SpeciesVery similar to Austropetalia patricia, from which A. tonyana was separated in 1995. These have a slightly different number and arrangement of dark spots on the wings. Can cautiously separated by geography with A. patricia only being found north of Canberra while A. tonyana has only been recorded south. Some darners, like Adversaeschna brevistyla or Austroaeschna unicornis have similar stripy markings on the thorax but the markings on the abdomen are quite different and no other genus has the diagnostic spotted wing markings.
Behaviour &
Observations
This species has very specific breeding habitat requirements so males (in particular) can readily be observed at waterfalls during their flight time, usually early in the season (from October to December). Males will patrol up waterfalls and then find a suitable perch nearby to wait for females. Males are very alert to other dragonflies in the area and I have observed some briefly attempting to mate with other males (before realising their mistake). As such, any females approaching the waterfall have always been grabbed swiftly by waiting males. Females deposit eggs into rotting vegetation in the splash zone and males will often perch such that they occasionally get splashed with water.
LinksPrimefact Number: 1356 (DPI NSW)

Page Updated: 14-Aug-2015
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