What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Aeshnidae are large, robust dragonflies, often with brown and yellow markings. The compound eyes cover the head and meet broadly along the mid-line. Species may breed either in still or running water and males often can be seen 'hawking' back and forth over suitable oviposition habitat. They also hawk along roads at windscreen height, much to their cost (cf. Corduliidae, in which males of Hemicordulia often hover over roads at radiator height). Females insert eggs into floating or submerged plant tissue and oviposition often takes place in tandem.

Two common and widespread still-water species are Hemianax papuensis and Adversaeschna (formerly Aeshna ) brevistyla . These both belong in the cosmopolitan subfamily Aeshninae. A majority of the Australian fauna, eight endemic genera and 30 species, form part of the subfamily Brachytroninae. All but one of these species is restricted to the eastern states and most breed in streams. The median space is crossed in Dendroaeschna (1 sp.) and in the crepuscular Antipodophlebia (1 sp.) and Telephlebia (6 spp.). These last two have semi-terrestrial larvae. Adults of Telephlebia and Austrophlebia are immediately recognisable by a light brown bar along the costal margin of each wing. Austroaeschna (16 spp., 1 western) is the largest genus, and Notoaeschna and Spinaeschna each have 2 spp. Acanthaeschna and Austrophlebia are monotypic, tend to crepuscular behaviour, and are huge insects (span 120-150 mm). Anax (3 spp.), and Anaciaeschna jaspidea are aeshnine, not commonly recorded from Australia but with ranges to our north. They breed in still waters. The Gynacanthaginae, with Gynacantha (five dull-coloured, tropical spp.), Agyrtacantha dirupta (dull-coloured, Cape York, crepuscular) and the more brightly coloured and more widespread Austrogynacantha heterogena , inhabit still waters and may be seen (but not captured) flying high in the treetops at dusk. Aeshnid larvae are elongate and unmistakable.

  • Notoaeschna sagittata larvae

  • Telephlebia brevicauda larvae

  • Telephlebia godeffroyi

  • Aeshnidae

  • Aeshnidae

  • Austroaeschna anacantha

  • Austroaeshna eungella

  • Austroaeshna forcipata, male

  • Austroaeshna forcipata, male