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Australian Emerald - Hemicordulia australiae

FAMILY HEMICORDULIIDAE

This page contains pictures and information about Australian Emerald Dragonflies that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known as Sentry Dragonflies.

Male, Body length 50mm, never rest during the day.

Australian Emeralds are long and slender, with black pattern on yellow colour. The black patterns are shiny blue green under the sun. Their eyes and mouth occupy almost all their head with bright green in colour. They are medium in size, body length about 50mm. 

The Australian Emerald Dragonflies are strong flyer and spend most of the time flying in air. They look very similar to another Emerald species Tau Emerald. Their wings colour is different and there is no T-mark on the Australian Emerald face. They can be found at the same place. Because both of them never rest, it is difficult to distinguish between them. However, the Tau Emeralds are less common.
 
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The second picture was taken early in the morning, the Australian Emerald Dragonfly nymph came out from water and just emerged and become an adult. More about dragonflies life cycle please visit this page.


Always in Air  

During day time, you can hardly come close to them. The Australian Emerald Dragonfly will fly away long before you come into the two meters distance. 

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Males usually patrols in their territories about half  a meter above water. Their favored territories are over small pools of water with a lot of weeds in the water, those pools usually cut off from the main water stream by thick and tall emergent vegetations. Those areas are also have an open sky.

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If you come within their territories and stay motionless, they will come close to you, about two meters, and still in the air to inspect what you are. If they get used to with you, they may fly closer to you. If you disturb them or try to catch them, they will fly up to the sky and disappear for quite a while.

They rest at night and usually stay high on top of the tree. To take the pictures of this dragonfly we need good camera, patient and luck. 


Female

The Australian Emerald Dragonflies female and male look the same and have the same colours. Also notice their eyes colour changed from brown to emerald when matured.
 
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We sometimes found this dragonfly in our backyard at a mid summer night where is at lease one km away from creeks or ponds. Like all members in CORDULIIDAE and HEMICORDULIIDAE family, when perched, they usually hang suspended vertically. They rest high on trees at night. At rest, the dragonfly had no response to our approach and closer look at it is possible. It just stay motionless for a whole night.
 
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Male 

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Young male                                                          Young male                                                          Young male 
 
The Australian Emerald Dragonflies have emerald eyes when matured (see picture below), but brown in immature stage, like the above picture shown. In immature stage, they usually hunt far away from water.
 
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Mature male                                                         Mature male
 
When they become mature, they fly back to the water. The male are now brightly green under the sun. The eyes are in bright green colour. The male usually flying up and down along the creek to protect their territories. They usually fly about 0.5 to 1 meter over the water, sometime stand still in the air. 
 

Mating

Just before mating, the Australian Emerald Dragonflies form tandem when they are flying. Within a very short time the female curves her abdomen to form a wheel pair while they are still in rapid flight. Then the couple will land some where on the nearby vegetation to complete the mating.
 
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The above picture shows two Australian Emerald Dragonflies are mating in wheel position. The male uses his tail to hold the back of female's head. The female curves her abdomen to reach his sperm pouch.  They hold this mating position for about 15 minutes. The above first picture was taken on a pond along the Bulimba Creek in late summer. The second was in Yugarapul Park.
 
We observed  that Australian Emerald female lay her eggs alone, not in tandem nor guarded by the male. She flies zig-zag over the surface with plants in the water. She dips her tip of abdomen in the water quickly. More information can be found in Mating and Reproduction page. 
 

Two Australian Emeralds on Spider web

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Dragonflies and Damselflies have very good eyesight so in general they can avoid the spider web. However, we saw two Australian Emeralds get caught in spiders web, like the about pictures, a couple of  times. We can imagine that this was because a Australian Emerald intruder came into the territory of another Australian Emerald, both fought with each other and forgot to watch out for the dangers. Both end up in the spider web. 
 

 
 
The Australian Emerald Dragonfly has two pair of wings which are about equal in size. They are clean in colour. Its veins pattern are similar to the  T-Mark Emerald but it is black in colour, the T-Mark Emerald veins are yellow-brown in colour.

Reference:
1. The Australian Dragonflies - CSIRO, Watson, Theisinger & Abbey,1991, p218.
2. A Field Guide to Dragonflies of South East Queensland - Ric Nattrass, 2006, p76.
3. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia - CSIRO, GŁnther Theischinger and John Hawking, 2006, p244.

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Last updated: February 13, 2011.