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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:22 pm

Lucia Widow, African Black Widow Palpopleura lucia (Luciase Weetjie)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © nan
Male, S119, Kruger National Park

Description
Body length: 28.5–31 mm. Hindwing length: 23–24.5 mm.
The extensive black wing markings readily identify this species. The hind margin of the black wing markings is undulating. Pterostigmas are bicoloured. The abdomen of the male is pale pruinescent bluish grey with clearly visible black appendages, whereas in the female it has two lines of yellowish, squarish spots on either side and is pruinescent dorsally.

Face: very dark brown. Labrum, anteclypeus, postclypeus and side of frons shiny blackish brown. Frons very sloping,with wrinkles, shiny, deep metallic blue.
Eyes: dark brown.
Synthorax: mottled brown, becoming pale pruinescent blue above. Two pale, indistinct yellowish horizontal side stripes that become obscured with age.
Wings: with extensive black markings that follow costa to pterostigmas. Hind margin of black markings undulating.
Pterostigmas: bicoloured becoming all blackish with age, 3.5-3.8 mm long.
Abdomen: pale pruinescent bluish grey, with clearly visible black appendages
Female: light and dark yellowish brown. Thorax with two yellowish stripes. Wings with a basal dark brown patch and another, larger one, around and behind nodus. These two patches are connected with a thin bridge along the front edge of the wing. The patches are bordered and infilled with smoky yellow, which, in hindwing, is extensive, reaching hind margin. Abdomen with two lines of yellow, squarish spots on either side, and pruinescent dorsally.

Distribution
The species is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa, this species is widespread in the southern Africa region and locally common, not in the arid southwest or at the Cape.

Habitat
Pools and dams with an abundance of reeds and grasses.

Biology
Flight period: November to May.

Image © BluTuna
Male, Kruger National Park

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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:25 pm

Pantala, Wandering Glider, Globe Skimmer, Global Wanderer Pantala flavescens (Narbroekie)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © BluTuna
Garden in Gauteng

Image © BluTuna
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.

Description
Body length: 47–50 mm. Hindwing length: 38.5–41 mm. Long clear wings, often with faint yellow patches towards at base of hind wings and occasionally an amber patch at the tip of each wing. The wings of the male are usually darker than on the females. Eyes red, face yellow to orange.
It is the only South African dragonfly that has the following combination of characteristics: fairly large, orange coloured or yellowish brown, no distinct wing flashes, tapered abdomen, long appendages combined with pterostigmas longer in the forewing than hindwing.
Nymphs are large and hairless, with oval abdomen bearing large and characteristic curved spines at the end.

Face and vertex all straw yellow and light brown.
Eyes: above reddish brown, mottled light grey, dark grey and pale yellow below.
Synthorax: orangy above, greyish at sides with a few, sparse dark brown markings.
Wings: clear, but sometimes with small, diffuse, amber areas, including at tips of wings.
Pterostigmas: pale brown, forewing 2.8-2.9 mm long, hindwing 2.2 mm long.
Abdomen: distinctly tapered, dull orange, darker above, with irregular, dark brown markings, increasing in intensity towards tip, along top, and also along lower side of abdomen. Can become reddish in some old specimens. Appendages long and dark brown.
Female: very similar tomale, but browner and stouter.

Distribution
Common in nearly all parts of Africa, roving far and wide. Very common throughout South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape Province, North-West Province), even to over 2000 m a.s.l., but especially common in bushy savanna and coastal KwaZulu-Natal. Highly migratory. Occurs all around the world in warm climates, in tropics and subtropics, and is generally regarded as the most widespread and abundant dragonfly on Earth.

Habitat
Although it breeds in small pools, even temporary ones, it is usually seen wheeling just above head height over grass among trees, often in groups. Often seen in gardens, flying back and forth over lawns and swimming pools.

Biology
Flight period: Late Nov to May.
Frequently migrates, flying erratically in front of advancing storms with characteristic gliding flight. Patrols long flight paths in search of a mate or in the quest for food. Females attracted to temporary pools in which to lay eggs. The voracious nymph feed on almost anything, including their own kind, and develops very rapidly.

Links: Warwick Tarboton Photos; Longest insect migration revealed

Image © BluTuna
Northern Farm, Gauteng

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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:26 pm

Voyaging Glider, Ferruginous Glider Tramea limbata (Engelband Swewer)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © Kesheshe
Etosha, Namibia

Description
Body length: 45-50 mm. Hindwing length: 38-42 mm.
A fairly large, deep red, gliding species with a smooth-edged, dark red patch at the base of the hindwing. Has a black abdominal tip (S9–10 all black above) with very long, blackish appendages on the tip of the abdomen.

Face: in front all reddish brown, darker in places. Frons above deep reddish brown with metallic purple sheen. Vertex dark brown.
Eyes: above dark red, below greyish with dark mottles.
Synthorax: all mid-brown with virtually no markings.
Wings: pointed with brown veins. Hindwing with a mostly smooth-edged, ovalish, dark red patch, jagged only near front of wing. Virtually no amber halo around patch. Forewing all clear.
Pterostigmas: yellowish brown, forewing 2.5 mm long, hindwing 2.2 mm long. Membranule light grey
Abdomen: tapered. S1 dark brown, S2-10 deep red. S2-7 sometimes with dark, fine rings on hind margin. S8 above with triangular, black patch, S9-10 all black above. Superior appendages very long, blackish, light brown at base.
Female: very similar to male in body patterning but colour duller and abdomen stouter.Wing patches also similar.

Distribution
From Senegal and Somalia to South Africa (Natal) and Namibia, southern Arabia, Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles & Mascarene Islands. Throughout much of South Africa, but rare on highveld, and by far most common in coastal northern KwaZulu-Natal. A longdistance traveller, and will even cross the ocean.

Habitat
Breeds in shallow pools and pans, but flies in humid, bushy country. Cruises and wheels around just above head height over grass among trees and bushes. Rarely lands, but will do so under cloudy conditions on the tops of bushes.

Biology
Flight period: December to May, with occasional individuals in winter.

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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:29 pm

Violet Dropwing Trithemis annulata
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © nan
Male, Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna
Female, Kruger National Park, Mopani camp, Eco Trail

Description
Small to medium-sized, distinctly stout and violet red with red wing veins. Purplish tint to thorax and abdomen in mature males.
Perches on twigs at or near still or sluggish water in warm areas.
Body length: 35-37 mm. Hindwing length: 30-31 mm. Larger (wingspan 60 mm) than Trithemis arteriosa.

Face: dark red. Labium dark yellow with small, central, dark brown dash. Labrum deep red with oval, dark brown patch on lower margin. Anteclypeus, postclypeus and front of frons deep red. Top of frons and vertex metallic deep reddish purple.
Eyes: dark red, with two whitish spots on hind margin.
Synthorax: with deep violet red (magenta) pruinescence, and dark stripes showing through on top, on shoulders and at sides.
Wings: with strongly red veins and hindwing with a dark orangy brown basal splash, almost reaching discoidal cell.
Pterstigmas: orangy brown, with blackish front margin, 3 mm long.
Abdomen: medium to stout, pinkish violet, with fine, deep purple, small, dark dashes along top, then small, black stripes above S8-9. S10 blackish in 1st half, pinkish violet in 2nd half.
Female: similar size to male, but dark brown and yellow. Pterostigmas and wing splashes similar to male, but wing veins not red.

Distribution
Widespread and locally common. Western Cape Province, Eastern Cape Province, coastal KwaZulu-Natal (up to 200 m a.s.l.), Mpumalanga lowveld, Limpopo. Common in Kruger National Park. To Europe and Asia Minor. Also Madagascar and Mascarenes.

Habitat
Pools, marshes and sluggish reaches of rivers, with bushes and trees nearby.

Biology
Perches conspicuously on a twig or reed, over water. On hot days and evenings will move away from water and perch on twigs on trees.
Flight period: November to May.
Breeding: Their ability for rapid larval development allows them to breed in temporary waters with more than 1 generation being produced each year.

Links: ARKive, Warwick Tarboton Photos

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park

Image © Super Mongoose
Male, Vaalkop Dam Nature Reserve

Image © BluTuna
Male, Kruger National Park, Mopani camp, Eco Trail

Image © BluTuna
Female, Kruger National Park, Letaba

Image © Moggiedog
Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park

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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:29 pm

Red-veined Dropwing Trithemis arteriosa (Rooinerfie)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © BluTuna
Male, Kruger National Park

Image © Pumbaa
Male, Kruger National Park

Description
Medium-sized (wingspan 58 mm). Body length: 32–36 mm. Hindwing length: 26–27.5 mm
The most common slender red species in South Africa. Small, slender, bright red, with bright red wing veins and black on side of tip of abdomen.
Eyes blood red. Synthorax red with black side stripes, and sometimes with a purple bloom on top of the synthorax. Wings have bright red veins and light orange splashes at the bases of all wings. The black wedge shape along the tip of the slender abdomen is one of the clearest features.
The female and immature red-veined dropwing, have a yellowish-russet abdomen with a pale streak between the wings.
Both the male and female red-veined dropwing have large crimson eyes. The distinctive lower mouthparts are yellow with a central bronze stripe. Black splashes run along the sides of the abdomen, increasing in size up to the tip, which is entirely black.

Face: deep red. Labium deep yellow with central, dark brown stripe. Labrum dark red with black, notched patch on lower margin. Anteclypeus, postclypeus and front of frons dark red. Top of frons and vertex, dimpled, deep red, with metallic purple sheen.
Eyes: blood red.
Synthorax: red with black side stripes, and sometimes with purple bloom on top.
Wings: with bright red veins, and light orange splashes at bases of all wings, but larger in hindwing, reaching discoidal cell. In SW of WCP, these wing splashes are darker, more broken and less extensive.
Pterostigmas: deep reddish brown, 2.3-2.4 mm long.
Abdomen: slender and bright red. In side view, S6-8 have black wedges that become increasingly wide, until S9, which is all black. S10 black.
Female: dark brown, yellowish brown and straw, with orange wing splashes like male, and pale stripe between wings. In SW of Western Cape, there is a form with smoky nodal patches.

Distribution
Widespread and common in Africa and can also be found across southern Europe and parts of the Middle East. Very common and abundant throughout South Africa.

Habitat
Pools, dams, marches and sluggish reaches of rivers. Commonly seen perching on reeds or dead branches emerging from the water.

Biology
Flight period: All year, but more common in summer months.
Perches conspicuously on emergent twigs or reeds at water's edge, but on hot days will move into the shade of trees.

Links: ARKive, Warwick Tarboton, Africa Dragonfly Photos

Image © BluTuna
Female

Image © BluTuna
Female

Image © Toko
Female, Marakele National Park, Tlopi camp

Image © Flutterby
Male

Image © Kesheshe
Male Red-veined Dropwing and male Broad Scarlet, Kruger National Park

Image © Kesheshe
Male, Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna
Garden in Johannesburg

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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:35 pm

Round-hook Dropwing, Dorsal Dropwing, Lakeside Dropwing, Upland Spectrum-blue Dropwing Trithemis dorsalis (Dorsal Valvlerkie)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © Flutterby
Male

Description
Medium-sized, all deep blue.
Body length: 37.5–38.5 mm, Hindwing length: 27.5–29 mm. The name ‘Round-hook’ describes the genital apparatus of the male, which is roundish.
Indistinguishable in the field from the Navy Dropwing (Trithemis furva), but the habitat difference is usually enough to tell them apart.
As with most dragonflies the male and female are different in colouration.

Face: light yellowish brown, dark brown and black. Labium pale yellow with very wide, central, black stripe. Labrum black. Anteclypeus light brown. Postclypeus dark brown in front, light yellowish brown at sides. Frons in front dark brown, light yellowish brown at sides. Frons above and vertex, dimpled, metallic bluish purple.
Eyes: very dark purplish brown, lighter below.
Synthorax and Abdomen: all deep blue.
Wings: clear, with small, basal, amber patch on hindwing.
Pterostigmas: brownish black, often with whitish outer vein borders, 3 mm long.
Female: yellowish with black markings. Thorax side with two pairs of diagonal, black wiggly lines. Wings with small smoky patches near bases and at nodus. Abdomen above with wide, black band. Pterostigmas yellowish brown to dark brown with age.

Distribution
The species has been recorded from South Africa to Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo. Records from Sierra Leone and Guinea are considered erroneous.
In southern Africa, this species occurs in the north and northeast of the region, as well as at the Cape. It is not found in the arid southwest (Namibia and Botswana). Principally a Drakensberg and highveld species.

Habitat
Streams, rivers and pools in bush or savannah. Mostly large lakes and dams and still reaches of rivers (rarely smaller pools or swift-flowing rivers).
At elevations above 700 m.a.s.l. (although at lower elevations in the Western Cape).
Tall grass bordering lakes, dams and river pools, mostly at higher elevations.

Biology
Flight period: Nov to May.
Perches on tall grasses and reeds at the edge of water, rarely on stones. Female usually nearby.

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

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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:37 pm

Navy Dropwing, Dark Dropwing, Lowland Spectrum-blue Dropwing Trithemis furva (Blou Valvlerkie)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © Super Mongoose

Image © Super Mongoose
Male, Vaalkop Dam Nature Reserve

Description
Medium-sized, males all dark blue. Body length: 37.5–38.5 mm. Hindwing length: 27.5–29 mm.
Rich blue, broad abdomen in mature males, females sport a mainly upper yellow abdomen, black-lined on the mid-dorsal. This dark blue species is easily separated from all other species except the Round-hook Dropwing (Trithemis dorsalis), from which it is almost indistinguishable in the field. It has very dark purplish brown eyes, being lighter below. The thorax side of the female has a zigzag black line (compared with the two pairs of diagonal, black wiggly lines in Trithemis dorsalis). It prefers rivers, where it is often seen perching on boulders midstream, mostly unlike the Round-hook Dropwing.

Face: light yellowish brown, dark brown and black. Labium pale yellow with very wide, central black stripe. Labrum black. Anteclypeus light brown. Postclypeus dark brown in front, light yellowish brown at sides. Frons in front dark brown, light yellowish brown at sides. Frons above and vertex, dimpled, metallic bluish purple.
Eyes: very dark purplish brown, lighter below
Synthorax and Abdomen: all dark blue
Wings: clear, with small, basal, amber patch on hindwing.
Pterostigmas: brownish black (3 mm long).
Female: yellowish with black markings. Thorax side with a zig-zaggish, black line. Abdomen above with narrow, black band. Hindwing with very small basal splash, and each wing slightly smoky around nodus and at tip. Pterostigmas yellowish brown to dark brown with age.

Distribution
Widespread from the south of Africa to Cameroon and the Red Sea coasts of eastern Africa and southwestern Arabia. Very common at low elevat ions (below 700 m a.s.l.) throughout much of South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape Province, North-West Province). Occas ionally at higher elevations, especially in Limpopo.

Habitat
Trithemis furva is mainly a lotic species known from streams and rivers, sometimes in reedy pools, in savannah, bush, woodland or semi-desert environments. Usually rocky, shallow rivers with clumps of tall grass among rocks. Rarely pools and stiller reaches of rivers.
Mostly perches on rocks, where it looks almost blackish, or on twigs and reeds at water's edge. Female usually away from the water, among tall grass or small
bushes.

Biology
Flight period: All year, but more common in summer months.
Breeding: Embryonic and larval development lasts for a minimum of 5 weeks.

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 4:39 pm

Kirby's Dropwing, Orange-winged Dropwing, Rock Dropwing, Trithemis kirbyi ardens (Kirbyse Valvlerkie)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © nan
Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park

Description
Small to medium-sized, bright orangish red, with large orange splashes on all wings. This features distinguishes this species from other Trithemis species. Short pterostigmas are dark reddish brown. Male has a bright orange-red abdomen whereas the female’s abdomen is yellowish to greenish brown with faint dark brown stripes. The abdomen has black dashes on the upper surface of S8–10, widest on S9.
Body length: 35-38 mm. Hindwing length: 25-26.5 mm.

Face: bright, light red. Labium yellowish brown, unmarked. Labium, anteclypeus, postclypeus and all of frons bright, light red. Frons with high peaks. Vertex slightly brownish red, also with high peaks.
Eyes: bright red above, darker and greyish below.
Synthorax: bright red above, deep red on sides with browner areas and short, black wavy lines.
Wings: with red veins, and large, orange splashes on all four wings, reaching about one third length of wings.
Pterostigmas: dark reddish brown, with orangy outer margins, paler on underside, and short, 2 mm long.
Abdomen: bright orangy red, with fine, black dashes on upper surface of S8-10, widest on S9.
Female: in contrast to male, very inconspicuous, yellowish to greenish brown, with faint dark brown stripes. Like male, has prominent peaks on frons, and especially vertex. Hindwing with faint, spotty basal, amber patch.

Distribution
Throughout much of South Africa. To West Africa and Arabian Peninsula, and across Asia. Common in Kruger National Park.

Habitat
Shallow, rocky rivers and rock pools, even temporary ones, in arid areas or hot savanna. Perches mostly on rocks in or beside shallow rivers, mostly in arid
or savanna areas. Around water troughs and swimming pools.

Biology
Very conspicuous with its bright colours as it perches on rocks. Female rarely seen, but darts over a river pool to cast its eggs, and rapidly escorted by male.
Flight period: November to May, with occasional winter individuals.
Breeding: Rapid larval development enables eggs to emerge in under 50 days.

Links: Warwick Tarboton Photos

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

Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:40 pm

Jaunty Dropwing Trithemis stictica (Vrolike Valvlerkie)
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © Flutterby

Description
Small, unmistakable, powdery blue thorax, black and yellow abdomen, turquoise eyes, and a faint, central, orangy area in hindwing.
The only Trithemis species in South Africa with a powdery blue thorax, and a black and yellow abdomen.
Body length: 35–37 mm, Hindwing length: 26.5–28 mm.

Face: pale yellow. Labrum with central, black band and black margins. Top of frons and vertex bright metallic turquoise. Vertex without peaks.
Eyes: turquoise with dark mottles. Back of head bright black and yellow.
Synthorax: front and top pale, pruinescent blue, although lower, hind area black and yellow.
Wings: slightly smoky, with very faint, central, orangy patch, only visible against a light background. Darker in Western Cape individuals. Veins black.
Pterostigmas: long (4.1-4.3 mm), dark brown between black margins.
Abdomen: black with bright yellow dashes. S9-10 and appendages all black.
Female: very dark from above, blackish and yellow. Thoracic side with yellow, longitudinal, central zig-zag stripe. Yellow markings of abdomen mainly only along side. No central, circular, faint splash on hindwing, although Western Cape individuals when young, have brownish leading edges on all wings.

Distribution
Throughout much of South Africa, 0 to 2000 m a.s.l. To Ethiopia and West Africa. Locally common in Southern Africa.

Habitat
Pools, dams and sluggish reaches of rivers.

Biology
Flight period: Nov to May, with occasional winter individuals.
Breeding: Males fly over the water in search of females. Eggs emerge from larvae after around 70 days.
Very alert as it perches conspicuously on a stick or reed at river or pool margins, often darting out to defend territory. Readily responds to hot sunlight by moving its abdomen into almost vertical, obelisk position, with wings well forward.

Link: Sanbi Biodiveristyseries 21, Warwick Tarboton Photos

AW Insect Book: Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)

Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:03 am

Red Basker Urothemis assignata
Suborder: Anisoptera. Superfamily Libelluloidea. Family: Libellulidae

Image © arks
Female, Kruger National Park, Matambeni hide

Description
Medium-sized, stout, male bright red, with large dark red hindwing splashes.
Body length: 37–41 mm, Hindwing length: 34–35 mm.

Face: including top of frons and vertex, deep red.
Eyes: above deep red, below light grey and blackish mottled
Synthorax: deep red with small darker patches.
Wings: hindwing with dark red, angular, basal, flares, with fine, amber halo. Forewing with minute traces of basal amber. Veins red in hindwing patch, rest orange.
Pterostigmas: yellowish brown with fine blackish anterior border, 4 mm long.
Abdomen: stout, bright red. S5-9 above with black stripe of uneven widths, widest on S8-9. Superior appendages moderate length, red.
Female: same build as male but not red, all grey, greyish brown and dark brown, abdomen above heavily marked. Hindwing patch similar to male, but not so extensive.

Distribution
The species is widespread in tropical and subtropical Africa except in forested areas. In southern Africa, the species is widespread in most of the southern Africa region: Angola; Botswana; Mozambique; Namibia (Von Bach Dam and the Naukluft Mountains); South Africa (East Cape coast, North along coast, Kruger National Park and Limpopo); Swaziland; Zambia; Zimbabwe.

Habitat
Pools, lakes or slow streams and rivers in savannah, bush and woodland. Perches conspicuously on tops of reeds at marshy pools inwarm areas.

Biology
Flight period: November to May.
Breeding: Males guard females in tandem during oviposition.

Link: Warwick Tarboton Photos