St Lucia Basker (Urothemis luciana)

View the above photo record (by Diana Russell) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the St. Lucia Basker in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Libellulidae

Urothemis luciana ST. LUCIA BASKER

Balinsky, 1961

Identification

Medium-large size and robust

Length attains 46mm; Wingspan reaches 84mm.

A deep red species with extensive dark amber panels at the base of the wings.

Easily confused with Urothemis assignata, but is larger and has extensive amber patches at the base of the forewings. These are much reduced or absent in Urothemis assignata. Both sexes of Urothemis luciana have 8 or 9 Ax veins in the forewing. (Urothemis assignata has 7 Ax veins in the forewing).

Click here for more details on identification of the St. Lucia Basker.

Urothemis luciana – Male
Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Richard Johnstone

Habitat

Urothemis luciana inhabits the subtropical wetlands of coastal NE KwaZulu-Natal. It is found in the vicinity of both perennial and seasonal marshes, swamps and pans. This species favours wetland/forest mosaic where trees, bushes and grassland are found in close proximity to wetlands.

Habitat – Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

The St. Lucia Basker is far more aerial than other Urothemis species and spends less time perched at the waters edge. It is most often seen on and around trees and bushes, with an abundance of long grass and water nearby. Perches conspicuously on top of trees, bushes and reeds etc. The flight is fast and powerful. It’s movements and life history are not yet fully understood.

Status and Conservation

Urothemis luciana is an uncommon to rare species with an erratic occurence. This species is not present at the same sites every year and appears to vanish during prolonged dry years, only to re-appear again after good rains. It is listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A significant portion of its South African range is protected within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The St. Lucia Basker is not known to occur at artificial habitats and is sensitive to habitat degredation.

Distribution

Urothemis luciana is endemic to north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique. It occurs as far South as Richards Bay.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for St Lucia Basker in the OdonataMAP database as at February 2020.

The next map below is an imputed map, produced by an interpolation algorithm, which attempts to generate a full distribution map from the partial information in the map above. This map will be improved by the submission of records to the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum.

Further Resources

Virtual Museum (OdonataMAP > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name)

More common names: St. Lucia-sonvangertjie (Afrikaans)

Type Locality: Natal, South Africa.

Recommended citation format: Loftie Eaton. M; Hofmeyr S; Tippett RM; Underhill L – St. Lucia Basker Urothemis luciana. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available online at http://thebdi.org/2020/02/25/st-lucia-basker-urothemis-luciana/

Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Sally Hofmeyr, Ryan Tippett & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Sally Hofmeyr, Ryan Tippett & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. Sally Hofmeyr has many years' experience in the academic world, writing her own material and editing the work of others. Her academic background is in the natural sciences: her PhD and first postdoc in ornithology and environmental change (Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town). Ryan Tippett is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the VMU since 2014 and has currently submitted over 11000 records. He is also on the expert identification panel for the Odonata Map project. Prof Les Underhill has been Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town since it started in 1991. Although citizen science in biology is Les’s passion, his academic background is in mathematical statistics.