Damselflies: Hemiphlebia mirabilis

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

♂ Grampians

♀ Grampians

mating, Grampians

tail-flicking, Discovery Bay
Common NameAncient Greenling
Genus/SpeciesHemiphlebia mirabilis Selys, 1869
Abundance &
Uncommon, localised populations in south-eastern Australia from south-east South Australia to central Victoria and northern Tasmania. Although previously considered extremely rare, as known populations only ever had low populations, a major new area in south-west Victoria was discovered in the spring of 2008 and two years later it was also discovered in the Grampians, where larger populations were also subsequently discovered. The IUCN 2008 Red List has the species listed as endangered. It has special protection in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (PDF).
HabitatThey thrive in pristine, shallow, ephemeral swamps that are densely vegetated with rushes (such as Baumea sp). These swamps usually dry out by mid summer.
DescriptionThese are small damselflies (about 22–24mm long), metallic green or bronze in appearance. They have a dark stripe horizontally across the eyes near the top and both sexes have small, white appendages at the end of their tails.
Behaviour &
Flight time for adults is generally early in the season (November–January) and they usually disappear from a location when the surface water of their habitat dries up.
These damselflies are not active flyers and spend most of the time perched, either waiting to ambush prey or for a passing mate. They characteristically flick their tail several times, particularly immediately on landing, apparently for communication with other individuals. I have observed both males and females perform this equally so it is not a mating display. It is my belief that this is to ward off unwanted mating attempts as the action would be used to brush off the initial mating grasp.
When attempting to mate, the males would identify a target, suitable or otherwise, pounce onto its back, clasping the potential mate's wings with his legs. This would disable the target from being able to fly away. Sometime they would grab another male in this way or even a different species, as seen in image 5767 where a teneral male Austrolestes analis is being held.
During the successful matings I have observed, the male, after holding the female's wings for a while, crawled up the wings to the front, curved his abdomen underneath and clasped the her by the neck (as normally seen with damselflies) and she curled her abdomen underneath (to form the "wheel" position). After about 10 minutes they separate.
As yet egg depositing has never been observed, but it is presumed the females lay eggs into vegetation on the water (the thickening at the end of the abdomen is diagnostic of this). The two or three matings where I have been able to continue observing the female after separation resulted in her expelling the sperm — to me this indicated she was not ready to mate.
LinksBehaviour and ecology of Hemiphlebia mirabilis Adolfo Cordero Rivera 2013 (PDF)

Page Updated: 13-Aug-2015
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