On New Year’s Eve, a Giant Petaltail (Petalura ingentissima) visited our garden. She was the second we had ever seen – the first arrived in 2009 and hid behind a Livistona trunk so Jeff could only get partial photos of him.
He was a “he” as he had the elegant oval appendages (or petals) at the tip of his tail. The petaltail that arrived on New Year’s Eve was a female dragonfly, without petals.
Of course, everyone’s garden has dragonflies – but petaltails are something special. North Queensland’s Giant Petaltail is the largest dragonfly anywhere in the world, with a wingspan of 16 centimetres and about 120 cm body length. And the genus to which they belong, Petalura, is known from Jurassic fossils from over 150 million years ago. Petaltails would have flown around Brachiosaurus and other Jurassic dinosaurs. Now they fly with dinosaur cousins, the birds.
The books and few references that we could find say that petaltails are found along rainforest streams. We are not sure if our bird-bath qualifies for a stream, but the creek behind us does.
Dr Helen Larson
Wongaling Beach, Queensland