Sunday, 19 February 2017

Chlorogomphus aritai - another of those magnificent species

Early May last year I was driving along route 14 through Thua Thien - Hue Province, close to the Laotian border. From the corner of my right eye I noticed a large butterfly floating above some bushes by the roadside. But no, a dragonfly! There is very little traffic on route 14 at this point, so I confidently slammed on the brakes and jumped out the car. A magnificent large Chlorogomphid was cruising nearby with colored wings. I was able to catch it and take some in hand shots, before putting it on a bush for some posed photos. Soon after she (it was female) flew off into the nearby forest. What a truly magnificent specimen. I was under the impression it was Chlorogomphus caloptera, but it turned out it was Chlorogomphus aritai, a species described in 2013 by Haruki Karube on the basis of specimens from Bach Ma National Park. Bach Ma centers on mountains close to the sea near Da Nang, but in fact that is not at all far from where I found it, as Vietnam is very narrow at this point. Although the female of C. aritai is superficially similar to the female of C. caloptera, they are not that closely related within the genus. Haruki places C. aritai in the subgenus Nubatamachlorus with C. nakamurai, another species with a female possessing colorful wings, although not nearly as striking as in C. aritai. These species are sought after by insect collectors, and as they are all scarce and under pressure of many negative environmental impacts, this is highly regrettable. I was happy to see her unharmed and hope I will encounter her offspring this year.

Fantastic Chlorogomphus aritai female, posed

The same female in hand before release

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