Suborder Zygoptera
Family Megapodagrionidae

Argiolestes subornatus
Argiolestes subornatus

Spread-winged damselflies, like the Lestidae, with only two antenodal crossveins, but with branching of veins R4+5 occurring nearer the nodus, as shown below. There are dozens of species in two genera.

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 1


Of the two genera, Podopteryx are larger insects with broader wings, having more cell rows in the anal area of the wing, as shown below.

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 2
Base of forewing, Podopteryx (left), and Argiolestes (right).

Genus Argiolestes Selys, 1862

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 3
Wings of Argiolestes australis.

This genus has undergone extensive revision in recent years, with pending publications expected to divide Argiolestes into several smaller genera. Vincent Kalkman, of the Netherlands, is doing most of this work. Many new species are expected.

A large group of fairly robust, spread-winged damselflies, including several highly variable species, most from New Guinea and the neighbouring islands, with a single species (A. ochraceus Montrouzier, 1865) from New Caledonia, and two from the Philippines. As of 1956, Lieftinck was able to report 31 species inhabiting the Papuan region, but the list has grown considerably in recent years (47 species at the time of writing with several new taxa awaiting publication).

For purposes of identification they can be divided as follows:

  • "Kirbyi-group": Dorsal surface of S8-9 only weakly sclerotized, posterior margin of S10 with a single (or sometimes two-pronged), large median spine (as shown below). Currently includes 12 species.

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 4

  • "Ornatus-group": Dorsal surface of S8-9 only weakly sclerotized, posterior margin of S10 serrated (as shown below). Currently includes 17 species.

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 5

  • "Solomon-group": Found in the Solmon Islands. Dorsal surface of S8-9 normal, as strongly sclerotized as lateral and ventral surfaces. Sides of thorax largely blue or orange. Superior appendages without large spines on outer edge Currently includes 2 species.
  • "True Argiolestes": Dorsal surface of S8-9 normal, as strongly sclerotized as lateral and ventral surfaces. Sides of thorax largely brown or black. Superior appendages with an internal spine and/or with a series of large spines on the outer edge. Labrum not metallic. Currently includes 11 species.
  • "Sidonia-group": Dorsal surface of S8-9 normal, as strongly sclerotized as lateral and ventral surfaces. Sides of thorax largely brown or black. Superior appendages with an internal spine and/or with a series of large spines on the outer edge. Labrum deeply metallic throughout. Legs bright red. Currently includes 5 species.
Family Megapodagrionidae figure 6
Argiolestes sidonia

 

Argiolestes kirbyi - group sensu Kalkman

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 7

 

Ornatus subgroup A – Entire posterior margin of S10 denticulate.
A1 - Labrum non-metallic

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 8

Ornatus subgroup A – Entire posterior margin of S10 denticulate.
A2 - Labrum metallic green, blue, or purplish

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 9

Ornatus Subgroup B –

Posterior margin of S10 with a row of small teeth in middle one-third only (minute in A. verrucatus and vestigial in A. fornicatus), this portion at the same time somewhat pinched and/or more protuberant than the rest of margin, which is devoid of denticles.

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 10

Argiolestes Solomon-group sensu Kalkman

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 11

Argiolestes sensu Kalkman: "true" Argiolestes

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 12

Argiolestes sidonia-group sensu Kalkman

Vincent Kalkman will soon be introducing several new taxa.

A. aulicus was previously known only from the female, but Kalkman places the species in this group with confidence. The figure provided here is of the female thoracic pattern.

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 13

Genus Podopteryx Selys, 1871

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 14
Podopteryx selysi

Large, solitary damselflies found in deep rainforest without direct association with standing water. It is supposed that they breed in tree holes or water held by epiphytes.

Lieftinck (1935) quotes a letter from Stüber, which includes the following comments [translated herein from German]:

All seven of my collected examples, except for two from the lowland, were found only in the presence of primeval forest; this animal is never seen at the water, but is found along paths made by cassowaries and pigs, hanging on bushes. In any case, it casts its eggs on mossy stones or shrubs. One very rare insect! These [observations] are the results of nearly three years hunting; my collector had hardly ever seen this insect before, but it is quite a catch. This animal flies quickly, like the flight of Argiolestes: it buzzes with a regularly twitching flight. I saw this flight only once and lost the insect. [p. 193]

Apart from their large size, these insects may be known by their bowed tibiae and long leg spines. Three species are known from the region.

Genus Podopteryx – male terminalia

Family Megapodagrionidae figure 15
P. selysi