Content uploaded by Tharindu Ranasinghe
All content in this area was uploaded by Tharindu Ranasinghe on Jun 30, 2022
Content may be subject to copyright.
Travaux du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
“Grigore Antipa” 65 (1): 129–139 (2022)
Copyright Sumanapala & Ranasinghe. This is an open access article distributed under the terms
of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
First record of Lestes concinnus (Zygoptera: Lestidae)
from Sri Lanka with observations on its natural
Amila Sumanapala1, 2, arindu Ranasinghe2
1 Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2 Buttery Conservation Society of Sri Lanka, 762/A, Yatihena, Malwana, 11670, Sri Lanka
Corresponding author: Amila Sumanapala (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Received 9 September 2021 | Accepted 20 February 2022 | Published 30 June 2022
Sumanapala A, Ranasinghe T (2022) First record of Lestes concinnus (Zygoptera: Lestidae) from Sri Lanka
with observations on its natural history. Travaux du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle “Grigore Antipa” 65(1):
Lestes concinnus is a widespread species in tropical Asia and Oceania. It is a species known to have
variable colour patterns ranging between pale and dark phenotypes which have earlier been recognized
as distinct species. Lestes concinnus has never been known from Sri Lanka before. We report obser vations
of both phenotypes of the species and intermediate morphs of Lestes concinnus from coastal habitats
with dry reed patches in the northern part of the country, adding it to the Odonata fauna of Sri Lanka.
With multiple eld observations examined, we also provide comments on its identication and natural
history in the country.
New country record, Range extension, Dusky Spreadwing, Odonata, South Asia.
Odonata fauna of Sri Lanka consists of 131 documented species in 12 families
(Kalkman et al. 2020; Sumanapala 2021). Family Lestidae (Zygoptera) is represented in
the country by six species representing three genera: Lestes, Indolestes and Sinhalestes.
e genus Lestes is hitherto known from Sri Lanka by three species. Two of them,
i.e. Lestes elatus Hagen, 1862 and Lestes praemorsus decipiens Kirby, 1894 are fairly
Sumanapala & Ranasinghe
common species while Lestes malabaricus Fraser, 1929 is only known from a single
specimen collected in 1932 from Jana in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka
(Bedjanič et al., 2014).
Lestes concinnus Hagen in Selys, 1862, oen known as Dusky Spreadwing, is
known to occur widely in tropical Asia and Oceania from India, Nepal, Burma
(Kalkman et al. 2020); Iran (Dumont et al. 2017); Australia, China, Indonesia,
Myanmar, New Caledonia, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, and ailand
(Dow 2017). It is a species with variable colour patterns ranging from pale brown to
olive green with variable markings. In a study based on specimens collected from the
westernmost region of its distribution range, Dumont et al. (2017) concludes that the
species Lestes thoracicus represents darker phenotypic individuals of Lestes concinnus
and thus it is a synonym of the latter. Dumont et al. (2017) also considered Lestes
umbrinus a synonym of Lestes concinnus. ese have also been followed by Kalkman
et al. (2020) in their checklist of South Asian Odonata. erefore all previous records
of Lestes thoracicus and Lestes umbrinus in the Indian region can be reassigned to
Lestes concinnus according to the present understanding. However, Kosterin 2019,
based on Lieinck’s paper (1960), considers Lestes umbrinus to be a distinct species
but states that it is reasonable to abstain from including it among Lestes in the region,
given that no known specimen of it has been reported from the region and the type
locality of the species is unclear.
Multiple observations of Lestes with variable phenotypes have been reported from
the northern part of Sri Lanka during recent years. Based on detailed observations
and comparisons, we report these observations as records of Lestes concinnus, an
addition to the list of Sri Lankan odonates, and provide notes on its identication
and natural history.
Field surveys were carried out as a part of an ongoing island-wide survey of Odonata
in Sri Lanka. All observations were made in the eld and observed individuals were
photographed using Canon EOS 7D Mark ii camera tted with Canon EF 100mm
f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens. e specimen examined were released back to the
original habitat. Locations were reported using a Garmin 62S GPS receiver and the
distribution map was created in QGIS version 2.18.21. Identication of the species
was made using multiple taxonomic literature including Asahina (1985), Dumont et
al. (2017), Joshi (2013), Kosterin (2019), Laidlaw (1920) and Lieinck (1960).
First record of Lestes concinnus from Sri Lanka 131
Two males of Lestes concinnus representing the pale phenotype and the dark
phenotype, and a female of the pale phenotype were rst recorded at Talaimannar
(Mannar District, Sri Lanka) during a survey on 02 March 2016. ey were found
among dense reed patches in a coastal scrubland. A re-examination of previous
photographic observations and further surveys resulted in several additional
observations of the species in the same area during the years 2016 and 2017. A recent
survey in Kavutharimunai (Kilinochchi District, Sri Lanka) also provided some
observations of the species in a habitat broadly similar to that of Talaimannar (Table 1).
Lestes concinnus have two primary colour forms and variable intermediate forms (Figs
1–3). e paler phenotype, which was widely recognised earlier as the typical Lestes
concinnus form, is generally brown with darker markings. e darker phenotype,
which has sometimes been assigned to Lestes thoracicus, is pale olive green with black
and bluish markings (Table 2). e intermediate forms have a variable amount of
bluish markings, especially in the head, and variable darker stripes on the dorsum
Table 1. A summary of observations of Lestes concinnus in Sri Lanka
Date Location Individuals observed
19.i.2016 9.07589, 79.72213 1 ♂
02.iii.2016 9.07589, 79.72213 2 ♂, 1 ♀
09.iv.2016 9.05205, 79.78493 1 ♂, 1 ♀
09.iv.2016 9.07628, 79.72220 2 ♂, 5 ♀
10.iv.2016 9.04198, 79.80208 4 ♀
10.iv.2016 9.04465, 79.79833 1 ♂, 6 ♀
18.ii.2017 9.04191, 79.80261 1 ♀
27.iii.2021 9.59208, 80.07218 4 ♂, 4 ♀
23.iv.2021 9.59208, 80.07218 3 ♂, 3 ♀
23.iv.2021 9.58571, 80.08629 1 ♂, 1 ♀
23.iv.2021 9.57271, 80.10182 2 ♂, 1 ♀
23.iv.2021 9.55911, 80.12227 1 ♂,1 ♀
Sumanapala & Ranasinghe
Figure 1. Males of dark (A) and pale (B) phenotypes of Lestes concinnus observed at alaimannar
First record of Lestes concinnus from Sri Lanka 133
Despite the variations in the colour patterns, the structure of male anal appendages
was similar in the specimens observed in the eld (Figure 3). e cerci were slightly
longer than segment 10 and are bent inward at the apical end. e apical half of the
outer margin of cerci was equipped with small spines and the inner margin possesses
minute denticulation in the middle. A posteriorly directed spine was present on
the inner margin of cerci, close to its base. Paraprocts were well visible from above
and had a broad blunt apex in the lateral view. e anal appendages of the observed
specimen agree with those of Lestes concinnus as depicted by Asahina (1985), Dumont
et al. (2017), Laidlaw (1920) and Lieinck (1960). Observed specimens agree with
the key to the genera provided by Fraser (1933) and modied by Kosterin (2019).
Joshi (2013) who compared Lestes concinnus and Lestes thoracicus as they
were previously recognized, provide several characters which could be used in
dierentiating them. e range of morphological variation observed within the Sri
Lankan observations agrees with both sets of characters specied under each of
these taxa by Joshi (2013), supporting the synonymy of Lestes thoracicus with Lestes
Lestes concinnus can be dierentiated from all other Lestes species in Sri Lanka
by having a pale brown or olive green thorax with darker, oen diused, stripes
along either side of the dorsal carina. No metallic markings on the thorax. e last
abdominal segments usually have a thin black line along the mid-dorsal carina in
most specimens and the cerci of the males are pale with dark apices. Eyes are pale
Figure 2. A female Lestes concinnus observed at Mannar Island.
Sumanapala & Ranasinghe
Figure 3. A comparison of phenotypic variation among males of Lestes concinnus in Sri Lanka. Each
pair of images represents the dorsal view of the head, thorax and anal appendages of a single individual
(A, B, C from Kavutharimunai, D from Talaimannar).
Table 2. Morphological characters of pale and dark phenotypes of Lestes concinnus observed in Sri Lanka
Character Pale Phenotype Dark Phenotype
Head Labrum and gena brown. Frons,
clypeus, vertex, occiput light brown. Labrum and gena pale bluish.
Frons and clypeus black with
some slaty blue markings. Vertex
black. Occiput pale olive green.
Eyes Pale brown with even paler ventral side. Pale blue with anterior dorsal
half dark. Ventral sides pale.
Prothorax Brown. Olive green with black and
pale bluish markings.
Synthorax Brown with somewhat diused dark
brown stripes on either side of the
mid dorsal carina. Ventral side paler.
Olive green with somewhat diused
black stripes on either side of the mid
dorsal carina. Ventral side paler.
Pterostigma Light brown with paler outer margins. Dark brown with paler outer margins.
Abdomen Generally light brown with dark dorsal
carina. Slaty bluish sides to segment 2-6. Dark along dorsal carina. Paler
sides with slaty blue on segment
3-6. Pale brown lateral markings
on segment 8-10. Pale bluish
markings on segment 8, 9 and 10.
Anal appendages Cerci pale brown with darker apices. Cerci creamy white with dark apices.
A B C D
First record of Lestes concinnus from Sri Lanka 135
brownish or bluish. Dark phenotypic specimens have a slaty bluish abdomen and
prothorax markings. Wings are clear with brownish or dark pterostigma with paler
Lestes concinnus is known to inhabit habitats with long dried grass (Fraser 1933)
and streams, ponds and reservoirs in low canopy forests (Koparde 2015). In Sri
Lanka, Lestes concinnus is only known from the coastal habitats with dry grasslands
and dense reed patches (Figs 4, 5) in the north-western part of the country (Fig. 6).
Adults have been observed among the reeds closer to water bodies, as well as in dry
grasslands with scattered scrub. Despite regular surveys conducted by the authors
in several areas of Mannar and Kilinochchi Districts throughout the past couple of
years, the species has never been encountered in any other habitats. It can be assumed
that Lestes concinnus in Sri Lanka breeds in the coastal wetlands of the drier parts of
the country, with adjoining vegetation consisting of dense grass and reed patches.
Several species of Odonata were observed in the same microhabitat in sympatry
with Lestes concinnus. ese include Ceriagrion coromandelianum, Agriocnemis
pygmaea, Ischnura senegalensis, Lestes elatus, Diplacodes trivialis, Orthetrum sabina
and Crocothemis servilia. Lestes concinnus usually perches on vertical reed stems about
0.3–0.5 m above the ground. ey y at the same height and perch on another reed
stem about a meter or two away upon disturbance. Roosting also takes place among
the same vegetation.
e species appears to be highly seasonal in Sri Lanka. Adults have only been
observed in January, February, March and April, which generally represent the
latter part of the north-eastern monsoon and the period immediately following the
monsoon. e highest abundance have been recorded in April.
Figure 4. Habitat of Lestes concinnus in Kavutharimunai. A: expansive dry grasslands. B: dense reed
patches with scattered scrub.
Sumanapala & Ranasinghe
Despite previous odonatological and natural history explorations in Sri Lanka, Lestes
concinnus has never been documented in the island hitherto. e seasonality of
adults and the habitat specicity shown by the species in the country are two factors
that might have contributed to this. It is also possible that the species has recently
dispersed to Sri Lanka and that might be the reason for all known observations to be
limited to coastal habitats. If that is the case, it can be expected to be reported in other
lowland grasslands associated with wetlands in the north-eastern part of the country.
Lestes concinnus is easily recognizable from the other Lestes species known from
Sri Lanka based on the colour patterns of the adults. Even though the species have
a pale morph, a dark morph and intermediate morphs, the pale morph is the most
common form encountered in the eld. In addition to the phenotypic characters, it can
also be dierenciated from its known congeners in the country based on the structure
of the anal appendages. Further studies based on integrated morphometric and
molecular taxonomic methods across the entire range of the species are recommended
to better understand the taxonomy of the species and its congeners.
As of the present understanding, Lestes concinnus is only known from two coastal
areas in Sri Lanka. e limited distribution range and habitat specicity of the species
in the country suggest that it is a likely candidate to be recognized as a species with
Figure 5. Habitat of Lestes concinnus in Talaimannar and the authors documenting the rst known
observation of the species in Sri Lanka. Image credit: Koushalya Mahagedara.
First record of Lestes concinnus from Sri Lanka 137
high conservation importance in national level conservation assessments. Further
research, continuous population monitoring and assessing its distribution range will
provide additional data that can support better conservation assessments in future.
e habitat in Kavutharimunai, where Lestes concinnus was recently recorded (Fig.
4), represents a unique landscape of expansive coastal grasslands which continues
inland and gradually forming a ridge of sand dunes. It should be noted that such
a unique landscape require better protection at the national level to conserve the
landscape, the ecosystem and the species it supports.
Figure 6. Distribution of known Lestes concinnus observations in Sri Lanka.
Sumanapala & Ranasinghe
e authors wish to thank Devaka Weerakoon for his guidance and support; Dilani
Sumanapala, Koushalya Mahagedara, Nuwan Chathuranga, Ruvinda de Mel, Harsha
Athukorala and other colleagues for their assistance in the eld, and the reviewers
for their valuable comments to improve the manuscript.
Asahina S (1985) A list of the Odonata from ailand. Part VIII Lestidae. Chô Chô 8(8): 2–13.
Bedjanič M, van der Poorten N, Conni K, Šalamun A (2014) Dragony Fauna of Sri Lanka:
distribution and biology with threat status of its endemics. Penso. Soa. 321 pp.
Dow RA (2017) Lestes concinnus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017:
T158656A83379420.en. Downloaded on 19 August 2021.
Dumont HJ, Ikemeyer D, Schneider T (2017) Lestes concinnus and L. pallidus: two non-metallic
species with wide, complementary ranges (Odonata: Lestidae). Odonatologica 46(1/2):
Fraser FC (1933) e Fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Odonata Vol. I.
Taylor and Francis Ltd. London, 423pp.
Joshi S (2013) Response to “Talmale, S.S. & A.D. Tiple (2013). New records of damsely Lestes
thoracicus Laidlaw, 1920 (Odonata: Zygoptera: Lestidae) from Maharashtra and Madhya
Pradesh states, central India” with a note on identication of Lestes concinnus Hagen in
Selys, 1862 and L. umbrinus (Selys, 1891). Journal of reatened Taxa 5(7): 4125–4126.
Kalkman VJ, Babu R, Bedjanič M, Conni K, Gyeltshen T, Khan MK, Subramanian KA, Zia
A, Orr AG (2020) Checklist of the dragonies and damselies (Insecta: Odonata) of
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 4849(1): 001–084.
Koparde P, Mhaske P, Patwardhan A (2015) Habitat correlates of Odonata species diversity
in the northern Western Ghats, India. Odonatologica 44(1/2): 21–43.
Kosterin OE (2019) Amendments and updates to F.C. Fraser’s key to Indian Lestes spp.
(Odonata: Lestidae) to resolve confusion of L. patricia Fraser, 1924 and L. nigriceps Fraser,
1924, with notes on L. nodalis Selys 1891 and L. garoensis Lahiri, 1987. Zootaxa 4671(2):
Laidlaw FF (1920) A list of the dragonies recorded from the Indian Empire, with special
reference to the collection of the Indian Museum. Part III. e genus Lestes and its allies.
Records of Indian Museum 19(4): 145–163, gs. 1–8, incl. pl. 5–5.
Lieinck MA (1960) On the Identity of some little known Southeast Asiatic Odonata in
European Museums described by E. De Selys Longchamps with descriptions of new
species. Memoirs of Society of Entomology of Italy 38: 229–256.
First record of Lestes concinnus from Sri Lanka 139
Sumanapala AP (2021) Macromia weerakooni sp. nov. (Odonata: Anisoptera: Macromiidae), a
new dragony species from Sri Lanka. International Journal of Odonatology 24: 169–177.