Anax parthenope julius (Lesser Emperor – Oriental)

This was a confusing addition to our catalogue from our stopover in Hong Kong, 2017, bound for the Antipodes. Why confusing?

Upon first sight, given the blue saddle on S2/3 and the dull abdomen, my initial thought for the specimens shown below was Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor), as in Europe. Then I realized that rather than the dull brown thorax of my familiar European A. parthenope, this specimen had an apple green thorax more like Anax imperator (Emperor Dragonfly/Blue Emperor). Digging around Asian sites I found Anax guttatus (Lesser Green Emperor) looking like a good suspect with the required green thorax; my suspicions switched to that. That lasted until I saw a post of a specimen from Japan matching mine and tagged simply as Anax parthenope. I did more digging and realized that the abdominal markings on my specimen were wrong for A. guttatus. It led me to the discovery of this subspecies of A. parthenope: A. parthenope julius, which has abdominal markings similar to the European A. parthenope but which does have a bright green thorax.

There is en excellent pair of comparison photos between A. p. julius and A. guttatus on the VietOdonata blog.

The Atlas of European Dragonflies and Damselflies (Boudot/Kalkman) talks about world ranges and within its entry for A. parthenope refers, further east, to “the closely related Anax julius“. The World Odonata List, which does not deal with subspecies, notes Anax julius as a synonym of A. parthenope. There is no mention of any julius in relation to A. parthenope in the IUCN redlist that I can see, though it refers to the Catalogue Of Life which does list the subspecies Anax parthenope julius, along with two other subspecies (geyri and jordansi).

The net result is that I’m now happy that I have the correct critter but I am less happy with its nomenclature.

Most commentaries seem to use the trinomial subspecies name, A. p. julius, as opposed to the binomial synonym A. julius, so I’ll go with the trinomial. Since it looks so markedly different from our European A. parthenope, I’ve given it its own page. For clarification, I’ve tagged this “Lesser Emperor – Oriental” but that’s only a personal name. 😉

As you can see, the only pictures I managed were of an ovipositing pair which at least gives both male and female. It’s also interesting to note the tandem oviposition, which is normal for our European A. parthenope.

ovipositing pair