SOME INSECTS SEEN DURING A BIRDING TRIP IN MADAGASCAR: OCT.- NOV. 2017

During October and November 2017, I spent about 3 1/2 weeks in Madagascar with my friends Gary Friedrichsen and Bob Sizoo. Although our primary goal was seeing birds and mammals, it was difficult for me to ignore the insects. I didn't have time to wade through swamps or spend hours on river banks so the dragons and damsels I encountered were mostly those that could be seen at roadside, trailside, lake edges, or in hotel gardens. A handful were found inside the forest. Below are the species I was able to photograph.

On the recommendation of friends he'd worked with last year, our complicated logistics were handled by Mike Zafinimbiny at Subdesert Madagascar.  We were subjected to some room and hotel changes but, in all fairness, I read about that happening to larger, more established tour companies, so I think that was just a function of traveling in Madagascar. Many people complain about in-country flights; our one had no issues. Our transportation was varied and often colorful, and included airplane, van, SUV, ocean-going motor boat, outrigger canoe, covered flat-bottom boat, and carts pulled by Zebu cattle. Although much of the island's habitat has been cleared for grazing, converted to rice production, or planted in Eucalyptus, the birding sites were productive. The food was good to excellent, the accommodations perfectly adequate to very good, and everyone we encountered, including the poorest street vendor, gave us a big smile when greeted in their native language.  

Note: All of these photos were taken with a Sony DSC HX400. This camera is durable, lightweight, has a long reach - useful for both birds and insects - and possesses a strobe that can easily be diminished for close subjects. However, like other point-and-shoot cameras of this type, it has great depth of field which occasionally produces messy backgrounds. Many of these pictures were greatly cropped so may not be sharp on viewing screens much larger than a tablet.

Thanks to Dennis Paulson (Washington), for helping with several of the dragonflies and damselflies; K.D. Dijkstra (The Netherlands) who weighed in on Trithemis and Diplacodes; and Brian Finch (Kenya), who provided identifications for many of the smaller butterflies. 

Endemics are designated with (E).

=¡= 

DAMSELFLIES - ZYGOPTERA

PLATYCNEMIDIDAE - WHITE-LEGGED DAMSELFLIES

(E) A female Proplatycnemis sanguinipes (Schmidt, 1951), on lake edge vegetation, Hotel Eulophiella, Andasibe (2 November 2017).

(E) A male Proplatycnemis malgassica (Schmidt, 1951). Small, shady stream behind Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (22 October 2017). Thanks to Dennis Paulson for the id.

=¡=

LESTIDAE - SPREADWINGS

The widespread Ochre Spreadwing, Lestes ochraceus Selys, 1862 along a small shaded stream at the Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (23 October 2017).

=¡=

POND DAMSELS - COENAGRIONIDAE

(E) A male Azuragrion kauderni (Sjöstedt, 1917) on a water hyacinth leaf in an ornamental fountain at the Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (25 October 2017).

(E) A male Pseudagrion apicale Schmidt, 1951 (above and below), roadside stream in front of the Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana, where numerous (27 October 2017).

=¡=

(E) Pseudagrion malgassicum Schmidt, 1951 (males, above and below). Namorona River edge where common, Ranomafana (26 and 27 October 2017).

=¡=

(E) Males of Pseudagrion punctum (Rambur, 1842) (above) Lac Sacre, a large pond in the desert outside Mahajanga in NW Madagascar (13 October 2013) and (below) Tsarasaotra Park, Antananarivo (29 October 2017).

=¡=

Unknown female (above and below). Lake at Hotel Eulophiella, Andasibe  (2 November 2017).

=¡=

DRAGONFLIES - ANISOPTERA

DARNERS - AESHNIDAE

(E) The rather common Anax tumorifer MacLachlan, 1885, roosting trailside, Namaza Trail, Isalo NP (23 October 2017).

=¡=

GOMPHIDAE - CLUBTAILS

(E) Female (above) and male (below) Paragomphus madegassus (Karsch, 1890) on boulders at a roadside stream just uphill from the Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017).

=¡=

LIBELLULIDAE - SKIMMERS

Southern Banded Groundling, Brachythemis leucosticta (Burmeister, 1839) was encountered at only one site. A male (above) and a female (below) were at lake edge at Tsarasaotra Park, Antananarivo (29 October 2017).

=¡=

A male Slender Scarlet, Crocothemis divisa Baumann, 1898 (above), one of several perched on boulders along the Namaza Trail, Isalo NP. All were very pale and could easily have been missed (23 October 2017).

=¡=

A male Broad Scarlet or Scarlet Darter, Crocothemis erythraea Brullé, 1832 (above) in a weedy field behind the Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (25 October 2017). Widespread in Africa, this species has occurred in Europe and the British Isles. A female is depicted below, Namaza Trail, Isalo NP. (23 October 2017.

=¡=

A female Diplacodes lefebvrei or D. exilis (checking this) (above and below) photographed among grasses in a weedy field behind the Hotel Thermal in Ranomafana (25 October 2017).

=¡= 

(E) An old female Diplacodes exilis Ris, 1911. Lac Sacre, a pond in the desert outside Mahajanga in NW Madagascar (13 October 2017).

(E) A female Hemistigma affine (Rambur, 1842), headquarters Trail, Ankarafantsika NP (11 October 2017).

(E) Striped Junglewatcher, Neodythemis hildebrandti Karsch, 1889 (above) a male at a roadside drainage ditch across from the Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana town (27 October 2017) and (below) a female  perched along a shady path behind the Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (25 October 2017).

=¡=

Males of Orthetrum abbotti Calvert, 1892 (above) in a weedy field behind the Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (25 October 2017) and (below) Namaza Trail, Isalo NP (23 October 2017).

A female Orthetrum abbotti in a weedy field behind the Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (22 October 2017).

 

Orthetrum trinacria (Selys, 1841). Lac Ambouromalandy near Ankarafantsika (12 October 2017).

Orthetrum icteromelas Ris, 1910 Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (23 October 2017).

A male Orthetrum azureum (Rambur, 1842) (above) perched roadside in Ranomafana town (25 October 2017) and a female (below) at weedy woodland edge behind the Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (22 October 2017). The species is endemic to islands in the Indian Ocean.

=¡=

A female Bold Skimmer, Orthetrum stemmale (Burmeister, 1839) at shady forest edge, Ankarafantsika NP headquarters (10 October 2017).

(E) A sparkling male Silver Widow, Palpopleura vestita Rambur, 1842 (above) on the grounds of the Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (26 October 2017) and a female (below) perched on a roadside brush pile outside the Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017).

=¡=

Wandering Glider Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798) is the world's most widespread dragonfly. They were common at several sites. This one was roosting in weedy growth behind the Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (25 October 2017). 

(E) A male Madagascar Jungleskimmer,Thermorthemis madagascariensis Rambur, 1842, seen trailside near Lac Verd at Analamazaotra, Andasibe - Mantadia  NP (1 November 2017). This is the largest libellulid on the island.

A male of the widespread Violet Dropwing, Trithemis annulata (Palisot de Beauvois, 1807), at Lac Sacre outside Mahajanga (13 October 2017). The species is widespread in Africa and has occurred in Europe.

A male Orange-winged Dropwing, Trithemis kirbyi  Selys, 1891, at the edge of a shallow, sunny river south of Zombitse (21 October 2017). This species is widespread in Africa and has recently colonized southern Europe.

(E) A male of Trithemis persephone  Ris, 1912 (subtly different from T. selika below) in a roadside drainage canal across from the Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017). Thanks to KD Dijkstra for suggesting characteristics that differentiate similar Trithemis.    

(E) A male Crimson Dropwing, Trithemis selika (Selys, 1869) (above) on the grounds of the Hotel Thermal, Ramonafana (27 October 2017) and a presumed female (below) perched at roadside, Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017).

=¡=

(E) A Madagascar Riverking, Zygonoides lachesis (Ris, 1912) on a boulder in a small, swift tributary of the Namorona River, Ranomafana (27 October 2017). Thanks to Dennis Paulson for the id.

=¡= 

SKIPPERS - HESPERIIDAE

SPREADWING SKIPPERS - PYRGINAE

(E) This spreadwing skipper is Celaenorrhinus humbloti (Mabille, 1884). It was perched on the underside of a leaf along the bridge across the Namorona River just below park headquarters. Ranomafana NP (25 October 2017).

GRASS SKIPPERS - HESPERIINAE

(E) This is a member of the genus Fulda. There are at least eight species - all from Madagascar. It was photographed at Analamazaotra, Andasibe - Mantadia  NP (1 November 2017).

Weedy field behind the Hotel Thermal, where numerous. Ranomafana (25 October 2017).

This skipper may belong to the widespread genus Gegenes. Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (23 October 2017).

SWALLOWTAILS - PAPILIONIDAE

The Citrus Swallowtail, Papilio demodocus Esper 1798 is widespread in the Old World and now found on several islands in the Caribbean. Here one roosts at the park headquarters, Ankarafantsika NP (11 October 2017).

Spotted Blue Swallowtail, Papilio epiphorbas epiphorbas Boisduval, 1833 ????? Roadside drainage ditch at Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017).

WHITES AND SULPHURS - PIERIDAE

A lightly marked individual of the widespread White Albatross, Appias sabina Felder & Felder, 1865 at a roadside drainage ditch across from the Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017).

(E) Yellow-painted Caper White, Belenois helcida in the forest understory at Analamazaotra, Andasibe - Mantadia NP (1 November 2017).

(E) Madagascar Dotted Border, Mylothris phileris along a shady forest trail, Ankarafantsika NP headquarters trail (10 October 2017).

A copulating pair of Grandidier's Caper Whites, Belenois grandidieri in the garden of the Hotel Le Paradisier, Ifaty (16 October 2017).

(E) Females of Madagascar Purple Tip, Colotis zoe (Grandidier, 1867) (above and below), Hotel Le Paradisier, Ifaty (16 October 2017).

BLUES AND HAIRSTREAKS - LYCAENIDAE

BLUES - POLYOMMATINAE

Probably Gaika (aka Tiny) Grass Blue, Zizula hylax, seen along the entrance parking lot at Analamazaotra, Andasibe - Mantadia NP (1 November 2017). This is a widespread species found as well in Asia and Africa.

(E) Leptotes rabefaner (Mabille, 1877) Ankarafantsika NP, headquarters Trail (10 October 2017).

HAIRSTREAKS

Cacyreus darius (Mabille, 1877); roadside at Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017). This species is endemic to islands in the Indian Ocean.

Leptomyrina phidias (Fabricius, 1793), roadside at Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017). This species is found on a couple islands in the Indian Ocean.

(E) Hemiolaus sp., possibly cobaltina, Namaza Trail, Isalo NP (23 October 2017).

on a window inside the restaurant. Hotel Le Paradisier, Ifaty (17 October 2017).

METALMARKS - RIODINIDAE

(E) Saribia sp., shady forest trail at Ranomafana NP (26 October 2017).

BRUSHFOOTS - NYMPHALIDAE

(E) Madagascar or Banded Commodore, Precis andremiaja in weedy lakeshore vegetation, Tsarasaotra Park, Antananarivo  (29 October 2017).

(E) Malagasy Chocolate Pansy, Junonia goudotii sunning roadside at the Hotel Domaine Nature, Ranomafana (27 October 2017).

A male Dark Blue Pansy (Junonia oenone) in a weedy field behind the Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (25 October 2017).

(E) Madagascan Banded Sailer, Neptis kikideli , Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (22 October 2017).

 

(E) Madagascar Green-veined Charaxes, Charaxes antamboulou roosting tree-side about 5 meters above ground. Ankarafantsika NP headquarters Trail (11 October 2017).

.

(E) Acraea sp. at Reserve Ornitholigique Mangily, Ifaty (17 October 2017).

The widespread Small Orange Acraea, Acraea eponina Cramer 1780, in a weedy field behind the Hotel Thermal, Ramonafana (25 October 2017).

Two individuals of the widespread and variable Common Acrea, Acraea encedon Linnaeus 1758 (above and below), in a weedy field behind the Hotel Thermal, Ramonafana (25 October 2017).

An African Monarch, Danaus chrysippus feeding at woodland edge, Hotel Le Relais de la Reine, Isalo (23 October 2017).

A forest floor satyr in the large genus Heteropsis, possibly H. difficilis. Ranomafana NP (26 October 2017).

Another Heteropsis satyr along a trail at Analamazaotra, Andasibe - Mantadia NP (3 November 2017).

SPHINGIDAE - SPHINX MOTHS

Night walk, edge of Ankarafantsika NP (16 November 2017).

At a porch light, Ranomafana NP headquarters office (26 October 2017).

At a porch light, Ranomafana NP headquarters office (26 October 2017).

-

PLANTHOPPERS - FLATIDAE

Popular with the local guides, who always pointed them out, are these large planthoppers, Phromnia rosea. Above is a waxy nymph and several of the beautiful adults are shown below. Namaza Trail, Isalo NP (23 October 2017).

j

0cxx

LANTERN BUG - FULGORIDAE

Zanna sp., Namaza Trail, Isalo NP (23 October 2017).

g

ROBBER FLIES - ASILIDAE

Namaza Trail, Isalo NP (23 October 2017).

Hotel Thermal, Ranomafana (25 October 2017).

5

ASSASSIN BUG - REDUVIIDAE

Analamazaotra, Andasibe - Mantadia NP (1 November 2017).

9

STINK BUGS - PENTATOMIDAE

Analamazaotra, Andasibe - Mantadia NP (1 November 2017).

e

BLABERIDAE - COCKROACHES

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Gromphadorhina portentosa, a popular pet in many countries. Reserve Ornitholigique, Ifaty (18 October 2017).

p

KATYDIDS - TETTIGONIIDAE

The truly monstrous conehead katydid Colossopus grandidieri, one of many non-avian wonders in southern Madagascar's spiny forestReserve Ornitholigique Mangily, Ifaty (17 October 2017).

h

SOME USEFUL REFERENCES

BOOKS

Behrens, K. and K. Barnes. 2016. Wildlife of Madagascar. Princeton Univ. Press. 344 p.

Dijkstra K-D.B. and V. Clausnitzer. 2014. The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa: Handbook for all Odonata from Sudan to Zimbabwe. 264 p.

Goodman, S.M. and J.P. Benstead (eds). 2004. The Natural History of Madagascar. Univ. Chicago Press. 1,1728 p. (This massive tome includes species lists for many groups of organisms including butterflies and dragonflies.)

WEBSITES

All Odonata 

http://www.allodonata.com/help

A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa. Wilkinson, J. and R. Dickinson

http://www.dragonflies-id.co.za/

Dragonflies (Libellule) of Madagascar. A set of Flicker photos by Cravenoceras

https://www.flickr.com/photos/45644411@N03/albums/72157632563054990/with/8395880320/

The three photos under the banner at top of page: Blue-legged Chameleon, Giant Coua, Zombitse Sportive Lemur.

=¡=    =¡=    =¡=

The Trade Name Naturewide Images has been registered with The State of Arizona

© Robert A. Behrstock 2017

 Images may not be reproduced without the Photographer's permission.