Dragonflies of Chalavara, Palakkad

Dragonflies of Chalavara, Palakkad


(In loving memory of our beloved friend Shri. C.G. Kiran)

I have been observing/documenting Odonata from my home village for the past 3 years.  This is the report for the year 2017.  I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the members of the forums Dragonflyindia and Dragonflies of Kerala for their continuous help and support.

Name of Observer: Muhamed Sherif

Period of observation:  January 2017 to December 2017

Location: Chalavara Panchayat, Palakkad District, Kerala (10o82’ N & 76o29’ E)

Total area: 27.9 sq. km

Geography:  Small hills interspersed with paddy fields, which constitute 30% of the total geographic area.  Chalavara is an agricultural village with rice being the main crop but with considerable extends of coconut and rubber plantations.  There are no natural streams present in the area.

Precipitation: Exact data unavailable.  Average rainfall for the area received in 2017.

Habitat for Odonata:

  1. Paddy fields (would hold water for about 8 months in a year).
  2. Water Channels (kaithodu) – There are numerous water channels flowing across the paddy fields and some of them will hold water up to early March
  3. Ponds:  More than 100 Small to medium sized ponds; many of which are perennial.


Total number of species documented from the area so far 48
No of species observed in 2017 39
New species documented Brachydiplax chalybea

Trithemis pallidinervis

Zyxomma petiolatum

Families represented Lestidae (2), Calopterygidae (1), Chlorocyphidae (1), Platycnemididae (1), Coenagrionidae (8), Aeshnidae (1), Gomphidae (2), and Libellulidae (23)
Species that are previously documented from the area but not seen in 2017 Vestalis apicalis

Agriocnemis splendidissima

Ceriagrion rubiae

Cratilla lineata

Indothemis carnatica

Neurothemis fulvia

Orthetrum glaucum

Rhodothemis rufa

Urothemis signata


  • Three new species were spotted in 2017 from the locality.  A good population of Brachydyplax chalybea was observed in September.  Trithemis pallidinervis was encountered for the first time from the area, a couple of individuals were noted, and a lone specimen of Zyxomma petiolatum was also spotted.
  • No Neurothemis fulvia in 2017.  Five species namely Ceriagrion coromandelianum, Diplacodes trivialis, Neurothemis tullia, Orthetrum Sabina, and Trithemis aurora were observed throughout the year.  Could not find even a single individual of Neurothemis fulvia, which is one of the commonest species found in the locality.
  • Large flocks of Pantala flavescens were observed (especially from July to November) as usual but movement with respect to any particular direction was not observed.
  • There is a good population of Lestes nodalis in the area.  It is interesting to note that the species was always spotted among the undergrowth, several hundred meters away from the water bodies.
  • Cannibalism was observed in Orthetrum sabina.  A female was spotted preying up on a male.
  • No andromorph form of Urothemis signata:  For the past 3 years, at least a couple of individuals of andromorph females of U. Signata were spotted from the area, especially during the months of October-November, however, no Urothemis were to be seen for this year.
  • It is observed that in Diplacodes trivialis, number of males encountered is pretty less compared to females.  Similarly, females of D. nebulosa can be seen aplenty whereas males were rarely spotted.
  • In general, compared to previous years, Odonata activity was less in 2017.

Month-wise observation (observations were made for at least 4 times a month):

A – abundant (more than 30 specimens observed); VC – very common (16 to 30 specimens observed);

C – common (4 to 15 specimens observed); and R – rare (1 to 3 specimens observed).

Sl No Name of Species Dry months Pre-monsoon & southwest monsoon months Northeast monsoon & post-monsoon months
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 Lestes elatus R C VC VC A VC VC VC C
2 Lestes nodalis R R R C VC VC C
3 Vestalis gracilis R C C C R R
4 Libellago indica C R C A A A A VC VC
5 Copera marginipes C R C A A A A VC VC
6 Aciagrion occidentale C C C VC VC C R R
7 Agriocnemis pieris C VC VC C C R
8 Agriocnemis pygmaea C VC VC C C C
9 Ceriagrion cerinorubellum R R C C C C C R
10 Ceriagrion coromandelianum C R R R R C A A A A VC C
11 Ischnura aurora R R R C C R R R R
12 Pseudagrion microcephalum R C C C C R R
13 Pseudagrion rubriceps C VC C C C R
14 Gynacantha dravida R R C C R R
15 Ictinogomphus rapax R R C C C R
16 Paragomphus lineatus R C C C C C R R
17 Acisoma panorpoides R R
18 Aethriamanta brevipennis C R R C VC VC C R R R
19 Brachydiplax chalybea C C C
20 Brachythemis contaminata R R R C A A C C
21 Bradinopyga geminata R R R R R
22 Crocothemis servilia C R R A A A A VC C C
23 Diplacodes nebulosa C C C R R
24 Diplacodes trivialis C R R R R A A A A VC VC C
25 Hydrobasileus croceus R R C C C C C
26 Lathrecista asiatica R R C C C C C R
27 Neurothemis intermedia R R C A A VC VC VC
28 Neurothemis tullia C R R R R VC A A A A A VC
29 Orthetrum chrysis R R R VC A A A VC VC C
30 Orthetrum luzonicum R R VC A A VC C C
31 Orthetrum sabina C R R R R C A A A VC VC VC
32 Pantala flavescens R R R C A A A A A VC
32 Potamarcha congener R R R VC A A VC VC C
34 Rhyothemis variegata R R R R VC VC VC R R
35 Tetrathemis platyptera C C C C
36 Tholymis tillagra R R R C C C C R R R
37 Trithemis aurora C R R R R A A A A VC VC VC
38 Trithemis pallidinervis R R R
39 Zyxomma petiolatum R R

2017 at a glance:

(1) Geography of the area – small hills interspersed with paddy fields; (2) Water channels – running across the paddy fields form important habitat for Odonata; (3) Cannibalism in O. Sabina; (4) P. flavescens; (5) B. chalybea; (6) L. nodalis – teneral; (7) Z. petiolatum; (8) A. pygmaea.

Checklist of Odonata from Chalavara:

SI No Scientific Name Common Name
Family:  Lestidae Calvert, 1907
1 Lestes elatus Hagen in Selys, 1862 Emerald spreadwing
2 Lestes nodalis Selys, 1891
Family:  Calopterygidae Selys, 1850
3 Vestalis apicalis Selys,1873 Black-tipped forest glory
4 Vestalis gracilis (Rambur, 1842) Clear winged forest glory
Family:  Chlorocyphidae Cowley, 1937
5 Libellago indica (Fraser, 1928) River heliodor
Family:  Platycnemididae Yakobson & Bainchi, 1905
6 Copera marginipes (Rambur, 1842) Yellow bush dart
Family: Coenagrionidae Kirby, 1890
7 Aciagrion occidentale Laidlaw, 1919 Green striped slender dartlet
8 Agriocnemis pieris Laidlaw, 1919 White dartlet
9 Agriocnemis pygmaea (Rambur, 1842) Pigmy dartlet
10 Agriocnemis splendidissima Laidlaw, 1919 Splendid dartlet
11 Ceriagrion cerinorubellum (Brauer, 1865) Orange-tailed marsh dart
12 Ceriagrion coromandelianum (Fabricius, 1798) Coromandel marsh dart
13 Ceriagrion rubiae Laidlaw, 1916 Orange marsh dart
14 Ischnura aurora (Brauer, 1865) Golden dartlet
15 Pseudagrion microcephalum (Rambur, 1842) Blue grass dart
16 Pseudagrion rubriceps Selys, 1876 Saffron-faced grass dart
Family:  Aeshnidae Leach, 1815
17 Gynacantha dravida Lieftinck, 1960 Brown darner
Family: Gomphidae Rambur, 1842
18 Ictinogomphus rapax (Rambur, 1842) Common clubtail
19 Paragomphus lineatus (Selys, 1850) Common hooktail
Family:  Libellulidae Leach, 1815
20 Acisoma panorpoides Rambur, 1842 Trumpet tail
21 Aethriamanta brevipennis (Rambur, 1842) Scarlet marsh hawk
22 Brachydiplax chalybea Brauer, 1868 Rufous-backed marsh hawk
23 Brachythemis contaminata (Fabricius, 1793) Ditch jewel
24 Bradinopyga geminata (Rambur, 1842) Granite ghost
25 Cratilla lineata Foerster, 1903 Emerald-banded skimmer
26 Crocothemis servilia (Drury, 1770) Ruddy marsh skimmer
27 Diplacodes nebulosa (Fabricius, 1793) Black tipped ground skimmer
28 Diplacodes trivialis (Rambur, 1842) Ground skimmer
29 Hydrobasileus croceus (Brauer, 1867) Amber winged marsh glider
30 Indothemis carnatica (Fabricius, 1798) Black scrub glider
31 Lathrecista asiatica (Fabricius, 1798) Asiatic blood tail
32 Neurothemis fulvia (Drury, 1773) Fulvous forest skimmer
33 Neurothemis intermedia (Rambur, 1842) Ruddy meadow skimmer
34 Neurothemis tullia (Drury, 1773) Pied paddy skimmer
35 Orthetrum chrysis (Selys, 1891) Brown backed red marsh hawk
36 Orthetrum glaucum (Brauer, 1865) Blue marsh hawk
37 Orthetrum luzonicum (Brauer, 1868) Tricoloured marsh hawk
38 Orthetrum sabina (Drury, 1770) Green marsh hawk
39 Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798) Wandering glider
40 Potamarcha congener (Rambur, 1842) Yellow tailed ashy skimmer
41 Rhodothemis rufa (Rambur, 1842) Rufous marsh glider
42 Rhyothemis variegata (Linnaeus, 1763) Common picturewing
43 Tetrathemis platyptera Selys, 1878 Pigmy skimmer
44 Tholymis tillagra (Fabricius, 1798) Coral tailed cloud wing
45 Trithemis aurora (Burmeister, 1839) Crimson marsh glider
46 Trithemis pallidinervis (Kirby, 1889) Long legged marsh glider
47 Urothemis signata (Rambur, 1842) Greater crimson glider
48 Zyxomma petiolatum Rambur, 1842 Brown dusk hawk


Fraser, F.C. 1933. The Fauna of British-India including Ceylon and Burma, Odonata. Vol. I. Taylor and Francis Ltd., London.

Fraser, F.C.  1934. The Fauna of British-India including Ceylon and Burma, Odonata. Vol. II. Taylor and Francis Ltd., London.

Fraser, F.C. 1936. The Fauna of British-India including Ceylon and Burma, Odonata. Vol. III. Taylor and Francis Ltd., London.

Kiran, C.G. & D.V. Raju 2011. Checklist of Odonata of Kerala with their Malayalam names. Malabar Trogon 9(3): 31-35.

Kiran, C.G. & Raju, D.V. 2013.  Dragonflies & Damselflies of Kerala. Tropical Institute of Ecological Sciences, Kottayam.

Palot M.J., C. Radhakrishnan & V.P. Soniya. 2005. Odonata (Insecta) Diversity of Rice Field Habitat in Palakkad District, Kerala. Records of Zoological Survey of India 104 (part 1-2): 71-77.

Subramanian, K.A. 2005. India-A Lifescape, Dragonflies of India – A Field Guide. Vigyan Prasar, India Offset Press, New Delhi.

Subramanian, K.A.2007. Endemic Odonates of the Western Ghats: Habitat distribution and Conservation, pp. 257–271. In:  Tyagi, B.K. (ed.). Odonata-Biology of Dragonflies. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, India.

Subramanian, K.A. 2009. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Peninsular India – A Field Guide. Vigyan Prasar, Noida, India.

Subramanian, K.A. and Babu, R. (2017). Checklist of Odonata (Insecta) of India. Version 3.0. www.zsi.gov.in.

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