Scientific Name: Petalura gigantea
Other Common Names: South-eastern Petaltail
Species documented in 1815 by Leach.
The giant dragonfly has a wingspan of up to 140mm, making it the second largest dragonfly to inhabit Australia. Its brown and yellow body can reportedly be as thick as a finger.
The giant dragonfly is currently listed as endangered (since 1998), threats to this species include clearing of habitat, habitat disturbance and a decrease in water quality. Trueman (2007) describes other possible features attributing to the vulnerability of this species: the adult dragonfly is a poor flyer and ‘hopelessly bad at dispersing’, and secondly the larvae are slow growing and are also semi- terrestrial (unlike most dragonfly larvae which are fully aquatic).
Eggs are usually laid into moss or vegetation bordering swamps. The larvae grow very slowly, and the length of this lifecycle is unclear; some sources report up to 10 years, others up to 30 years.
In the past this dragonfly was reported to occur in urban Sydney, its Northern beaches and Cronulla. Presently, the dragonfly is assumed to be confined to a few localities in the Royal National Park.
Wetlands and swamp appear to be the preferred habitat of the giant dragonfly.
Confirmed sightings should be reported to National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW. John Trueman offers further information and assistance in identifying this species at http://www.anu.edu.au/BoZo/trueman/labsite/petalura.htm.
Australian Museum, 2007. Wildlife of Sydney – Fact File – South-eastern Petaltail. Australian Museum Online. Available from: <http://www.faunanet.gov.au/wos/factfile.cfm?Fact_ID=213> [Accessed 1st February 2007]
Blue Mountains City Council, 2007. Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea): A Blue Mountains Endangered Species, Department of Environment and Conservation.
Hughes, L. 08th December, 2006. Petalura gigantea – endangered species listing amendment, Department of Environment & Conservation NSW. Available from: <http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Petalura_gigantea_amendment> [Accessed 1st February 2007]
Trueman, John. 2007. Petalura gigantea: an ancient bog-dweller in trouble, University of Western Australia. Available from: <http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/sbeder/wingecarribee/value/dragonfly.html> [Accessed 1st February 2007]
Trueman, John. 2007b. Petalura gigantea, Australian National University. Available from: <http://www.anu.edu.au/BoZo/trueman/labsite/petalura.htm> [Accessed 1st February 2007]