Re: AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:51 pm

Acacia Sprite Pseudagrion acaciae
Suborder: Zygoptera. Superfamily: Coenagrionoidea. Family: Coenagrionidae

Image © BluTuna
Male

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna
Female, Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna 11
Female, Kruger National Park

Description
Medium-sized. Body length: 38-39 mm. Hindwing length: 18.5-19 mm. Claw-like tips of their lower appendages, point upwards towards the upper appendages.
Rusty-headed with light green back of head, and orangy red thorax with green, black-ringed abdomen and blue tip.
Face: all rusty orangy red with fine, black tracery. Head above with black tracery against orangy red, but occiputs distinctly light green
Eyes: red-orange in front and green-blue behind.
Prothorax: blue-green with black tracery.
Synthorax:rusty orangy red above, light greenish blue at sides and below.
Wings: clear.
Pterostigmas: reddish brown.
Abdomen: S2-7 lime green with black dorsal lines and black rings. S8-9 bright pale blue, with partial black rings.
Female: dull brown and black.

Distribution
The species is widespread from Natal to Tanzania, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo. In Southern Africa, this species is widespread in the tropical north, ranging southwards to Natal. It is not found in the Cape or the arid south-west. Localised, below 300 m a.s.l. in the east. Northern Cape Province, northern KwaZulu-Natal, becoming more abundant in Mpumalanga (Kruger National Park).

Habitat
Rivers and floodplains. Swift, hot savanna lowveld streams and rivers with grass fringes. Perches on emergent sticks and vegetation in main current.

Biology
Flight period: November to May
Glides rapidly over and close to water surface when disturbed, regularly returning to favoured perch.

Links: Warwick Tarboton Photos

Re: AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:55 pm

Black Sprite Pseudagrion commoniae
Suborder: Zygoptera. Superfamily: Coenagrionoidea. Family: Coenagrionidae

Image © nan
Male, Kruger National Park

Description
Small to medium-sized, black with no postocular spots, a dull maroon face and with grey-tipped abdomen.
Body length: 33-38 mm. Hindwing length: 18.5-23 mm.

Face: head above, all velvet black. Labrum shiny black. No postocular spots.
Eyes: above and in front black, lower back deep red and green. In some old individuals can be all black. Legs all black.
Prothorax and Synthorax: above black, strongly pruinescent light grey below.
Wings: clear.
Pterostigmas: blackish brown.
Abdomen: black above, dull green with brown annular splashes below. S8-9 pruinescent light grey. S10 black with dusting of pruinescence.
Female: above light brown, greenish below, with a fewweak, dark, broken stripes.

Distribution
The species has been recorded from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia to Kenya, likely in Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. In southern Africa, this species occurs from Mpumalanga and Limpopo along perennial rivers in the tropical north, southwards to Natal. It is not found in the arid south-west or at the Cape.

Habitat
Pools, water holes but mainly sluggish reaches of streams and rivers, even those that are highly turbid.

Biology
Rests, and flies reluctantly, among rushes and sedges at water's edge. Also perches close to water on emergent twigs.
Flight period: December to May.

Links: Michael J. Samways: Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa; Warwick Tarboton Photos

Re: AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:00 pm

Kersten's Sprite, Powder-striped Sprite Pseudagrion kersteni (Kerstense Gesie)
Suborder: Zygoptera. Superfamily: Coenagrionoidea. Family: Coenagrionidae

Description
Medium-sized: Wingspan 46 mm. Hindwing length: 20–21 mm. Body length: 38–41 mm.
Pruinescent powdery blue and black striped, with bold, blue postocular spots and black labrum.

Face: blackish with bright, almost white, pruinescent splash across nose. Labrum black. Head above black with large, bright blue round to oval, blue postocular
spots.
Eyes: above blackish, light green to yellow green below.
Prothorax: black and heavily pruinescent white.
Synthorax: distinctly striped. Heavily pruinescent whitish blue stripes same width as black, shiny bronze stripes.
Wings: clear.
Pterostigmas: brown becoming almost black when old.
Abdomen: bronze black becoming heavily pruinescent whitish blue with age. Abdominal tip is light blue when young, becoming pruinescent whitish with age. S1 and sometimes S2 with greenish side patch, becoming obscured with pruinescent whitish blue with age.
Female: pale brown and black, becoming darker brown and eventually bluish brown and black with age.

Distribution
Throughout tropical Africa. One of the commonest damselflies throughout much of South Africa, 50-1600 m a.s.l., but rarely on coast (Eastern Cape Province, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, North-West Province).

Habitat
Tall grass-fringed, herb-fringed and reed-fringed, shallow, fairly fast streams and rivers. Sits conspicuously on a reed or grass stem beside running water. Female mostly away from water in tall grass.

Biology
Flight Period: All year, but scarce in winter.

Links: Photos: Africa Dragonfly Net

Re: AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:06 pm

Cherry-eye Sprite, River Sprite, Riffle Sprite Pseudagrion sublacteum
Suborder: Zygoptera. Superfamily: Coenagrionoidea. Family: Coenagrionidae

Description
Medium-sized. Body length: 37-41 mm. Hindwing length: 21.5-22.5 mm. Wings clear. Half the eye and head bright red. Rusty to mauvish brown and dull black striped, with bright blue abdominal tip. Abdomen dull bronze with a terminal slate blue band.

Face: all brick red with very fine black tracery. Labrum brick red. Frons and vertex in front brick red. Rest of head blackish with mauvish, reddish brown postocular spots joined by bar of same colour. When young, occiput close to eye is bright green. Head darkens with age.Eyes:
Prothorax: blackish with purplish brown spots, sides pruinescent greyish green.
Synthorax: above striped, bluish black and reddish brown to mauvish brown to purplish brown with age. Sides light blue, becoming increasingly pruinescent and blue with age.
Wings: clear
Pterostigmas: yellowish brown to reddish brown, becoming purplish brown with age. Bright pruinescent white spots between wing bases.
Abdomen: above black with bronze sheen, below pale green. In side view, the middle abdominal segments have black wedges and pale green rings, giving the abdomen a striped appearance. S8-9 pale to bright sky blue with a fine black half-ring of equal size at the end of each of S8 and S9. S10 above black, sides pale blue.
Female: above, all light brown; below, pale greenish brown. Black spots enlarging to stripes on each abdominal segment.

Distribution
Pseudagrion sublacteum has a range that extends from northern South Africa to West and North Africa, and the Middle East. Central KwaZulu Natal (up to 700 m a.s.l.), Mpumalanga, Northern Cape Province.
Native to: Angola; Benin; Botswana; Cameroon; Côte d'Ivoire; Egypt; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Israel; Kenya; Liberia; Libya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Yemen

Habitat
Streams and swift reaches of warm, savanna rivers, with glides and riffles, and profusion of grass and herbs at margins.
Perches on algal mats, twigs, weeds and reeds, and occasionally boulders, in or next to fast-flowing water away from bank.

Biology
Flight Period: November to May.

Links: Warwick Tarboton Photos; Michael J. Samways: Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa

Image © BluTuna 8
Male, Ngwenya Lodge

Image © BluTuna 9
Female, Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna 10
Female, Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna 11
Female, Kruger National Park

AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:40 pm

Family Aeshnidae (Hawkers, Emperor Dragonflies)

A cosmopolitan family of large or very large (wingspan 80-140 mm) Anisoptera, brightly coloured, with very large eyes that meet (eyes confluent). Species in South Africa are brownish and greenish dragonflies. Females with well-developed ovipositor, used to insert eggs into aquatic plants. (In all damselflies and in the Aeshnidae, there is a well-developed ovipositor underneath S9 for laying of eggs. The other dragonflies instead, have a notched or divided subgenital plate (sometimes termed a vulvar scale) under S8 and extending to S9.) Aeshnids patrol large territories, often along a river or road, and feed on large insects including other dragonflies. Mating occurs on a perch, not in flight.
Nymphs are elongate, with a flat and long labial mask. Some of the Aeshnidae grow up to 7 cm long and can take three years to mature.
There are 410 species of aeshnids listed in the world. of which about 43 are found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Links: Checklist: The Emperor Dragonflies (Odonata: Aeshnidae) of South Africa

Re: AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:58 pm

Blue Emperor Anax imperator (Blou Keiser)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily: Aeshnoidea. Family: Aeshnidae

Image © Joan
Male, Pilanesberg GR

Description
Body length: 74–75 mm. Hindwing length: 50–51 mm. Very large, strongly built, bright blue and black. The thorax is green, and the bright sky blue abdomen has a thick black stripe down the back (in males). The prominent eyes are blue. Females are usually green. Both sexes possess appendages at the tip of the abdomen known as 'claspers', which are used in mating. After emerging, both sexes are pale green with brownish markings.

Face: all light to greenish blue. Frons above with transverse dark smudge and black, basal spot. Vertex greenish blue.
Eyes: bright blue above, greenish blue below. More greenish in younger individuals.
Synthorax: mid-green, but with two, dorsal, turquoise triangles.
Wings: clear when young, becoming smoky in old individuals. Veins brown
Pterostigmas: long (4.8-5 mm), reddish brown.
Abdomen: bright, blue, with black patches, especially above.
Female: with yellow and green face, with black dot on dorsal surface of frons. Eyes olive. Thorax light to mid green. Wings very smoky in old individuals. Pterostigmas long (5 mm), reddish brown. S1 yellowish green. S2 mostly pale, light blue. S3 pale blue below. Rest of abdomen chocolate brown with some light greenish to blue patches on side.

Distribution
Continental Africa, to Europe and West Asia. Most common aeshnid in southern Africa. Widespread and common throughout South Africa.

Habitat
Mostly pools and dams with an abundance of waterweed, lilies and fringing reeds. Hawks rapidly about 1–2 m above the water surface along the reedy fringes of pools and dams. Cruises along the edges of pools and dams, although at dusk often leaves the water and hawks over grass among bushes.

Biology
Flight period: Oct to Jun, occasionally Jul to Sep.
Anax imperator breeds in any kind of standing and slow running waters bordered with rushes and weeds. Males patrol and hawk restless over their territory and exclude their congeners. Males most generally don't accompany the female during oviposition.

Links: Animal Life; ARKive

Image © Sharifa
Garden Route National Park, Wilderness

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna
Garden in Johannesburg

Odonata, Anisoptera, Gomphidae (Clubtails)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:42 pm

Family Gomphidae (Clubtails)

Gomphids are one of the largest and most widely represented dragonfly families in the world, with more than 950 currently listed species, of which at least 104 occur in sub-Saharan Africa. About 40 of these occur in southern Africa and 15 in South Africa.
Medium to large (wingspan 50-95 mm), Gomphids are distinctly separate from the other anisopteran families by having eyes widely separated (eyes do not meet on the top of the head). Both sexes are usually marked in black or brown and green or black and yellow, often with abdominal striping. Appropriately named, males of most species have a slender abdomen with the terminal segments expanded into a distinct club. Clubs are smaller in females. Only two segments on the tarsi of the fore and mid legs.
Males rest on bare mud patches on stream banks. Females lay eggs by whipping the water surface with the abdomen while in flight.
Nymphs have 4-segmented, short and stubby antennae, the last segment often very small. Nymphs are bottom-dwellers, often buried in mud.

Links: Checklist: The Gomphid Dragonflies (Odonata: Gomphidae) of South Africa

Re: AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:54 pm

Common Tigertail, Common Tiger Ictinogomphus ferox
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily: Aeshnoidea. Family: Gomphidae

Image © nan
Kruger National Park

Description
Very large, black and dull yellow, tiger-striped, big head and thorax, long thin abdomen with large club.
Body length: 73-75 mm. Hindwing length: 42-43 mm.

Face: greenish yellow, with small, central, dark brown spot on labrum, and two spots on anteclypeus. Frons in front with fine, brown bar, joined to a small, central line above. Frons sharply angled with fine lip. Head above black with yellow to yellow-green markings, including two small, yellow horns and a central, yellow ocellus. bluish grey.
Eyes: bluish grey.
Prothorax: yellow and black blotches.
Synthorax: narrow, all dark brown, and wide dull yellow to yellow-green stripes.
Wings: clear, with sharp, black veins, becoming smoky in old individuals.
Pterostigmas: very long (5.5-6 mm), pitch black
Abdomen: alternately brownish black and dull, greyish yellow. Very large, round foliations on S8, black with a little basal yellow. Superior appendages long, pointed and yellow with a little black only on tip, and some small denticles. Inferior appendages crooked, yellow with black tip.
Female: very similar to male, even in striping and foliations.

Distribution
Its range includes Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, and Zambia, among other areas.
Gauteng, Limpopo, common in coastal KwaZulu-Natal (up to 250 m a.s.l., rarely 700 m a.s.l., one individual 1400 m a.s.l.). North to Central Africa.

Habitat
It prefers to reside in tropical habitats with abundant vegetation, near freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes. Dams, pools, marshes and still reaches of rivers with abundance of reeds, grasses and stout twigs on which to perch. Margins of sluggish rivers and marshes, coastal KwaZulu-Natal northwards.

Biology
Flight period: November to May.
Perches with abdomen straight or slightly raised on strong twig or reed 1-2 m above water margin. Sometimes hawking among savanna trees, even at dusk.

Conservation Status
This species is thought to be common with a stable population, but it is threatened by habitat loss due to water pollution and agricultural practices. Research regarding all aspects of this dragonfly is recommended, but no conservation efforts are needed. The common tigertail appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Links: Warwick Tarboton Photos

Image © Sprocky
Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park, Letaba

AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 3:33 pm

Green Hooktail, Common Hooktail Paragomphus genei
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily: Aeshnoidea. Family: Gomphidae

Description
Medium-sized, with green head and thorax, and yellowand dark brown abdomen with reddish brown club.
Body length: 40-40.5 mm. Hindwing length: 24-25 mm.

Face: mostly light green. Labrum, anteclypeus, postclypeus and all of frons bright light green with same brown smudging. Vertex brown with green spots. Occiput green.
Eyes: dark greenish brown.
Synthorax: bright green with smudgy, brown stripes.
Wings: black with central, light brown stripes (3 mm long).
Pterostigmas: clear to greenish smoky.
Abdomen: S1-3 green, blackish brown and a little yellow. S1-7 with yellow and blackish brown, partial rings. First half of S7 bright chrome yellow. Second half of S7 dark chocolate brown. S8-10 dark chocolate brown with some faint yellow blotches when viewed from side. Foliations on S8 and S9, dark chocolate brown, sometimes with some faint yellow blotches. Superior appendages yellowish, and conspicuous in the field, fairly long and hooked. Inferior appendages a wide hook, and blackish.
Female: very similar to male, but body markings less distinctive, abdomen much stouter and foliations narrow.

Distribution
Paragomphus genei is widespread in Africa (except in dense forests), the Levant, Arabia and south Europe. It occurs in most of the Afrotropical countries. Sporadic records from Western Cape Province and Eastern Cape Province, but mostly below 800m in KwaZulu Natal Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Namibia, Swaziland. Common in Kruger National Park.

Habitat
Moist, gravel or sandy shores of savanna rivers with low water levels, and occasionally pools and reservoirs.

Biology
Perches, with abdomen raised at an angle, at water's edge. Darts off rapidly, returning again to shore.
Flight period: November to June.

Conservation Status
This species appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Sun Nov 09, 2014 3:33 pm

Family Libellulidae (Skimmers, Darters, Perchers)

One of the largest and most widely represented dragonfly families in the world, with 954 currently listed species. of which at least 181 occur in Africa and 58 in South Africa.
Libellulids are medium-sized dragonflies (wingspan 34-90 mm), typically red or blue. Full coloration is often attained in mature males only, leading to identification problems. In blue species, a waxy bloom develops gradually. Skimmers bask on rocks or twigs, from which they make short forays to snatch passing insects. Mating occurs on the wing, and males are often seen leading females over the water, where the females whip their abdomens over the surface to lay eggs.
Nymphs have a cupped labial mask, and occur mostly in stagnant waters.

Links: Checklist: The Libellulid Dragonflies (Odonata: Libellulidae) of South Africa