Last Updated on Thursday, 01 June, 2023 08:24:43 PM

INDEX  >  Damselflies of Borneo  >  Family Calopterygidae

Family Calopterygidae
Family Calopterygidae

Details on the separation of Calopterygidae species require examination with a stereo microscope for reliable identification. A detailed key was published by M.A. Lieftinck in 1965 (Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 108: 325-364.) which is available in most older university and museum libraries. Vestalis species in this group are among the commonest and most easily captured Odonata in many habitats.

There are two genus in our image records of Family Calopterygidae:
1- Genus Neurobasis

2- Genus Vestalis

HERE is a list of Endemic Dragonflies and Damselflies of Borneo Island

Neurobasis longipes

Male 61mm

Body length 61mm
Front wing 35mm
Hind wing 33mm


The brilliant Neurobasis longipes is surely one of the most spectacular species to witness in nature. The males flutter tirelessly up and down, over riffles and swift channels in broad, boulder-strewn forest streams. Sunlight flashes rhythmically from the iridescent green hind wings.

Often they perch for long periods on fallen logs awaiting the arrival of females. The female too, is bright metallic-green on the body, but the wings are clear, tinted a light yellowish-brown. They are easy to separate from Vestalis species by their very long legs. Mating is preceded by a dainty fluttering courtship dance.

The species found only at clear, swift streams in the lowlands. It is closely allied to Vestalis chinensis found in much of tropical Asia. There is some confusion concerning the status of longipes, some believing it to be a race of chinensis, but as both co-occur in Kelantan there is no doubt they are good species. The larvae are remarkably thin and elongate, considerably more so than those of Vestalis sp.

They live among root masses or detritus in swiftly flowing water and emerge at night to feed.

The Family Calopterygidae of damselflies, with over 160 species worldwide, is a widespread family best represented in the tropics. In Borneo there are nine species in three genera. One genus, Matronoides, and seven species are endemic. The family is best represented in north Borneo owing to extensive speciation there in the Vestalis amoena group.

All calopterygids are slender and fairly large (hw 30-40 mm) with long thin legs. In both sexes the head and body are mainly metallic- green. There is no pterostigma in any Bornean species (although it occurs in the south-east Asian genus Echo). The wings are densely reticulated with 22-70+ antenodal cross veins. Fore- and hind wings are nearly equal in length, broad and rounded, without a definite stalk.

Calopterygids typically occur in pristine habitats, especially small- to medium-sized clear forest streams, up to 1700 m. A few Vestalis species are common in swamp forest. The sexual behavior of many calopterygid species from temperate regions has been well studied, but Bornean species are less understood. However some form of courtship and mate guarding is common. Larvae are elongate with spidery legs and long narrow caudal lamellae, the middle one being shorter than the outer pair. They usually live in leaf packs or among stones on forest streams with clear fast flowing water.

Vestalis amoena occurs throughout lowland Borneo, up to about 500 m, and elsewhere in Sundaland. It is common on larger forest streams and is the most wide-spread of six very similar species, all with a metallic-green head, thorax and abdomen, and clear wings reflecting purplish or greenish iridescence from certain angles. As far as we know, in all species mating is preceded by courtship in which the male dances around the female displaying the sparkling colors of his wings. Females oviposit in dead leaves around the margins of streams, either guarded by the male or alone. The larvae of amoena are found among leaves and pebbles at the edge of fast flowing water. The other five species are distinguished from amoena and each other mainly by the form of the male appendages. They differ also in distribution and ecology.

* endemic species that naturally occurs in only Borneo Island

1/3 Genus : Vestalis Selys, 1853: (Vestinus) Kennedy, 1920
*1 Vestalis amabilis Lieftinck, 1965
2 Vestalis amaryllis Lieftinck, 1965
*3 Vestalis amnicola Lieftinck, 1965
4 Vestalis amoena (Hagen, 1853)
*5 Vestalis anacolosa Lieftinck, 1965
*6 Vestalis atropha Lieftinck, 1965
*7 Vestalis beryllae Laidlaw, 1915
  Vestalis gracilis (Rambur 1842) Note: Not found in Borneo yet. Recorded in Peninsular Malaysia
  Vestalis amethystina Lieftinck, 1965 Not found in Borneo yet. Recorded in Peninsular Malaysia
  Echo modesta Laidlaw, 1902 Not found in Borneo yet. Recorded in Peninsular Malaysia

* endemic species that naturally occurs in only Borneo Island

2/3 Genus : Neurobasis Selys, 1853
*1  Neurobasis longipes Hagen, 1887
  Neurobasis chinensis (Linnaeus, 1758) Not found in Borneo yet. Recorded in Peninsular Malaysia

* endemic species that naturally occurs in only Borneo Island

3/3 Genus : Matronoides Forster, 1897 (endemic genus of Borneo)
*1  Matronoides cyaneipennis Forster, 1897

Vestalis gracilis Vestalis amoena
Vestalis amethystina

Vestalis amoena Vestalis amethystina

Matronoides cyaneipennis

Matronoides cyaneipennis is the largest damselfly in Borneo (hw 3841 mm) and the broad wings of the males are entirely colored with deep metallic blue-green reflections. The body is dark, almost black, and the legs are exceedingly long. The female has clear, brownish tinted wings and a weakly metallic-green body. It occurs on streams in moss forest at 800-1700 m and is known only from Mount Kinabalu and mountains in northern Sarawak. Although it is a conspicuous insect, the shimmering metallic color of the male is not always obvious as it flutters in the shadows over little montane creeks. The life history is unknown.

Vestalis beryllae

Vestalis beryllae is easily recognized by the very long abdomen of the male. The wings are longer and narrower than in other species. The female too, although less distinctive, is clearly different from other species in the genus in size, wing-shape and relative length of abdomen. It occurs throughout Borneo up to 1000 m, most frequently deep inside primary forest in steep country. It frequents sun patches, often far from water, but is never very abundant.


Vestalis atropha

Vestalis atropha is known only from the lowlands of northern Sarawak and Brunei where it occurs sporadically on small swift forest streams. It frequently perches on the leaves of low shrubs inside the forest. The inferior anal appendages of the male are withered and very thin.


Vestalis anacolosa
Vestalis anacolosa

Vestalis anacolosa is on average a little larger than the other species and is confined to small swift forest streams up to about 800 m in Sabah, including the Crocker Range, Kinabalu and the Danum Valley. In this species the inferior appendages are reduced to stumps which can easily be seen with a hand lens.

Vestalis amabilis is found in lowland northern Sarawak and Brunei, on clear forest streams bordered by Pinanga and Dipteris lobbiana and also in swamp forest with Pandanus. Both males and females are sometimes abundant along forest paths in low country where they perch on leaves, often rising to capture small insects. Vestalis amnicola is confined to small swift forest streams to about 800 m in north Borneo. It is very local but not rare where present.

Vestalis amaryllis

Vestalis amaryllis inhabits smaller, often sluggish forest streams throughout Sabah. This male one was found in Tawau Hills Park. There were several Vestalis amaryllis on that sunny morning.

Out of the global 10 families of damselflies, the following 6 families of damselflies are found in Borneo Island :

01- Family Calopterygidae 色蟌科
02- Family Chlorocyphidae 鼻蟌科
03- Family Coenagrionidae 細蟌科
04- Family Euphaeidae 溪蟌科
05- Family Lestidae 絲蟌科
06- Family Platycnemididae  琵蟌科/扇蟌科
07- Family Protoneuridae 原蟌科


Common dragonflies in Borneo Island
Dragonflies of Borneo

"With 275 named species so far recorded in Borneo, the island has one of the richest and most exciting dragonfly faunas in the world. More than 40% of species occur nowhere else, making it the most distinctive sub-region of Sundaland." A Guide to the Dragonflies of Borneo by Albert G. Orr


Ficus subgelderi 淡金榕
Fig trees of Sabah

Borneo has 150 species of wild fig trees. Most of them are found in forests of Sabah.

Tiger Prawn Farms in Tawau
Tiger Prawn Farms in Tawau

Prawn farming is a main commercial activities in Tawau. Spawners from Tawau are graded the best in Malaysia. For decades, Tawau has been exporting high-grade tiger prawns to several countries such as Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Egypt and Australia.

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Damselflies of Borneo