Tholymis tillarga (Fabricius, 1798)

 Evening Skimmer/The Coral-tailed Cloudwing

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Found in Bangladesh, China, Guandong, Hong Kong, Hainan, Indonesia, India, Japan, Lao, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Viet Nam
Family: Libellulidae
Genus: Tholymis
Species: tillarga (Fabricius, 1798)
Scientific Name: Tholymis tillarga (Fabricius, 1798)

Tholymis tillarga 雲斑蜻 widespread in Borneo and active at dawn and dusk

Tholymis tillarga
widespread in Borneo and active at dawn and dusk

body length = 43mm
hind wing = 33mm
hind wingspan = 74mm

opaque white patches beside brown patches


body length = 39mm
hind wing = 31mm
wingspan = 71mm
long-tongue like appendage

The Twister - Tholymis tillarga  is commonly found near forest edges. During the day this species usually settles in dense vegetation.  Most of the time they are seen perching on the vegetation near the ponds, hanging on to the side twigs. From late afternoon the male starts patrolling water-sites until dark.

When fully matured  a male Tholymis tillarga male body is reddish in colour including abdomen .Both wings are transparent with the hind wing with white and brown on the base. (Dragonfly on the left is a male)

The wings of female (dragonfly on the right) and immature male are both transparent with the hind wing translucent brown near the base.


Photo Above : Matured female Tholymis tillarga. A common dragonfly species in Sabah

Tholymis tillarga female and immature male have similar wing pattern : both wings are transparent with the hind wing translucent brown near the base .

Matured Male has additional opaque white wing patches beside the brown patches that look like cloud hence the common name Coral-tailed Cloudwing

This female hind wing span is 68mm

Segment 8, 9, 10 of a Tholymis tillarga female view from top. The female anal appendages is 1.5mm long.

View from bottom. Of segment 8, 9, 10. On segment 9 is the Ovipositor (Egg-laying apparatus) with 2 interesting apparatus :

A) The Vulvar Lamina under the 9th abdominal segment that supports the eggs about to be laid. An important feature for identification in some families

B) A long-tongue like appendage.

( Vulvar lamina is the structure under the segment 9 that hold eggs in place during ovipositing

Vulvar lamina - plate under 9th abdominal segment of female that hold eggs in place during oviposition.  Female use  this spout-like Vulvar lamina egg-laying device to tap eggs into the water. Each species has distinctive shape of Vulvar lamina.)

Tholymis tillarga (hw 35mm) is another common crepuscular species in Sabah. Found in drains, lakes and weedy ponds. It commences activity about two hours before dusk. Males are quite conspicuous in the dull evening light by virtue of the bright white wing patches, which seem almost to glow as they fly back and forth. Its orange abdomen is also conspicuous. It is of medium size ( hw, 34-35 mm) and very widely distributed in the old world tropics.

Immatures male and female look similar but lacking white patch. Common in standing and slow flowing water in all types of open habitats, 0-1500 m; salt tolerant. Larva bottom dwelling, without long posterior spines and relatively slender. Adults active from 2-3 hours before sunset until dark. In the light of early dusk the whirring white patches on the wings are almost luminescent, and as the gloom deepens, are all that can be seen. Widespread in tropical Asia, Africa and Australasia. A species of the tropics and subtropics of the Old World, characterised by a crepuscular flight.

Tholymis tillarga species is common at brackish ponds and most frequently encountered during late afternoon and early morning. Female Tholymis tillarga are seen  ovipositing in rain-flooded gravel road.

"....Tholymis tillarga and Copera ciliata were strictly found at ......implicating their preference for smaller, slow moving and polluted river with floating microphytes.... "

Unique pattern of a mature male T. tillarga.

A mature male Tholymis tillarga's hind wing has a amber-brown tinted patch followed by area of white pruinescence which seem to glow as they fly back and forth.

Tholymis tillarga active at dusk along forest edges, the milky spots on wings are visible in twilight.

However immature male lacking this white patch

Tholymis tillarga is common throughout Malaysia in sheltered places.

Male Tholymis tillarga flies at dusk.



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