Dragonflies: Petalura gigantea

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

♂ Penrose State Forest

♀ Newnes Plateau, Blue Mountains

♂ Newnes Plateau, Blue Mountains
more
Common Name"Giant Dragonfly" or "South-Eastern Petaltail"
FamilyPetaluridae
Genus/SpeciesPetalura gigantea Leach, 1815
Abundance &
Distribution
Uncommon and generally restricted to their swamp habitats where they can be common some seasons but absent during others. It took me three years of travelling to the Blue Mountains until I found my first one but during 2014/2015 they were quite abundant.
HabitatFound in and around peat swamps and bogs from near the coast to sub-alpine regions.
DescriptionThese are among the largest dragonflies in the world. Their bodies are two-toned brown with pale yellow markings. Uncommon for dragonflies, this genus has well separated eyes and a relatively long pterostigma (dark patch towards the outer leading edge of the wings). Males have noticeable "petals" at the end of their tail (probably used during mating to help hold the female).
Similar SpeciesThis species can only really be confused with other Petalurids, when considering the eye spacing, pterostigma and petals of the male. Unfortunately I have noticed several times that Austrophlebia costalis has been incorrectly identified as Petalura gigantea, but that is because it is a similarly large dragonfly, just not as well known.
Behaviour &
Observations
Despite being large and good flyers they spend most of their time perched; males will wait around breeding sites for passing females and when hunting they are presumably ambush predators. Females deposit their eggs into swamps by perching beside pools or amonst grass and reaching their abdomen under water. The larvae live for many years (possibly 10 or more) in burrows they excavate in peat and, during the night, leave their swamps to forage nearby for invertebrates (much as a crayfish would).
LinksNSW Government
A Day in the Swamps

Page Updated: 10-Jul-2016
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