Stalking Aeshna at Huacarpay Lakes.Peru Odonata

A Web Page by Roy J. Beckemeyer

Last Updated 30 October 2001

Photo at right by David Pantle - showing the author intently stalking Aeshnidae on the mud flats at Huacarpay Lakes (1336.71'S, 7144..21'W, approx 3000m elevation) near Cusco.  Males flying 6" to 18" above ground, apparently searching for females.  Saw several pairs in copula.  Caught specimens of males, but no females were taken.  5 Nov. 2000.

Aeshna diffinis (or A. absoluta) in hand.


At left and below are lateral and dorsal views of the Aeshna species from Huacarpay Lakes.  Photographed 5 November 2000 by Roy Beckemeyer.  This site on the high and dry eastern slopes of the Andes.  Identified as Aeshna diffinis by Dennis Paulson, but based on Nathalia von Ellenrieder's recent article in Odonatologica ("A synopsis of the Patagonian species of the genus Aeshna Fabricius (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae)", 30(3):299-325), it appears that the species may  be A. absoluta.  

Aeshna diffinis or A. absoluta.

Polythoridae sp. at Aguas Caliente.


The first dragonfly I saw in Peru was flying about at Mach-Picchu (about 2300 m).  It appeared to be a Pantala flavescens.  I later saw an aeshnid species flying around there as well.  

At the Hotel Pueblo in Aguas Calientes we saw what might have been a female Polythoridae  (left -  Photo taken by Roy Beckemeyer 3 November 2000).

My first looks at what I was sure were some of the endemic neotropical beasts was the next day when I walked along the RR tracks away from the village of Aguas Calientes.  The tracks parallel the Urubamba River, which is quite rapid in this region (lots of Torrent Ducks and a few White-crowned Dippers seen on the river).  At a small stream about 30 cm wide that was flowing down the hillside into the river, I saw my first positively identified Polythoridae, which I believe to be Cora terminalis (right and left below).  (Dennis Paulson has identified the species as Cora cf. terminalis.)  Note the lovely electric-blue sheen on the middle third or so of the wings.  This is a stunning damselfly with its blue face and wing and striped green and black thorax.

Cora terminalis male at Aguas Caliente.Cora terminalis male at Aguas Caliente.

Megapodagrionidae sp. near Aguas Caliente.


With it was a Megapodagrionidae (left), a damselfly that perched with its wings outspread like an anisopteran, giving the impression of a small gomphid.    I also took a specimen of both of the above, although I had not brought my net, and had to capture them by hand, which was a slow and laborious job.  I saw this or a nearly identical species at several sites in the cloud forest during the trip.  The taxonomic group to  which this species belongs is being revised by Jurg Demarmels, so I will wait to identify it pending publication of his work.  (Dennis Paulson has tentatively identified the specimen to one of Jurg's new genera.)

Collection locality for Cora terminalis and the Megapodagrionid.

Other species that I did not collect included what appeared to be a very purplish-blue Argia pair in copula, and a libellulid with bright red abdomen.  This spot was at 139.65'S, 7231.37'W, 2000 m elevation.  The photo at right shows the location.  The stream flows under the tracks and into the Urubamba River which was just behind me as I took the photo.

Unidentified Aeshnidae at Sacsahuaman ruins near Cusco.This picture shows an aeshnid perched on the south-facing vertical surface of one of the huge rock walls of the Sacsahuaman ruins overloooking Cusco at nearly 3500 m elevation (1329.65'S, 7158.44'W).  These were flying around about a meter above the ground and then perching 2-3 m high on the walls in the sun.  I was unable to take specimens or to get close enough for a good photo - this one taken with a 400mm f5.6 telephoto.

Gomphomacromia specimen wings.

In the cloud forest along the Atalaya Road along a small trickle coming down the hillside (1310.7'S, 7136.57'W, 2600 m elevation), I got my first look at a Gomphomacromia.  This is probably G. fallax, if one goes by the records of what has been found in Peru, but I have no good data on the species that allows me to say for sure at this point.  (Dennis Paulson has identified my specimens as Gomphomacromia cf. fallax.)  I have included a scan of the wings of a specimen.  Below are photos of a Gomphomacromia male perched at a second site (132.58'S, 7135.7'W, 1500 m).

The site is one where there was a mossy cliff with water trickling down it (photo below right).  Here I also saw a female flying along the cliff face and flicking her abdomen toward the moss as if she was ovipositing.  I did not capture the female, but have a single male specimen from each site.

Gomphomacromia male perched.Gomphomacromia locality on Atalaya Road.

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