Yellow-veined Widow (Palpopleura jucunda)

The photo above (by Peter Webb) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Palpopleura jucunda, commonly known as the Yellow-veined Widow, is a species of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Very Small

Length up to 27mm; Wingspan reaches 42mm.

Both sexes are easily recognised due to their distinctive colouration, small size and squat build.

Palpopleura jucunda – Male
Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Palpopleura jucunda – Female
St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Favours the marshy fringes of streams and rivers, but also commonly found at seeps and vleis with an abundance of grasses. More common inland than along the coast.

Habitat – Upland marsh with an abundance of grass
Near Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Corné Rautenbach

Behaviour

An inconspicuous species due to its small size and habit of flitting low between grass tufts, but males often perch at the top of a grass stem. Has a slow fluttering flight on cool days and a faster darting flight when hot. Often gregarious when they occur in good numbers and both sexes occur together.

Status and Conservation

Palpopleura jucunda is a common but localised species. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is a fairly tolerant species and occurs widely at both natural and man-made sites.

Distribution

It is native to sub-Saharan Africa but is most widespread in Eastern, South-central and Southern Africa. Occurs from Ethiopia in the north right down to the southern tip of Africa in the Western Cape.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Yellow-veined Widow 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.

Ultimately, we will produce a series of maps for all the odonata species in the region. The current algorithm is a new algorithm. The objective is mainly to produce “smoothed” maps that could go into a field guide for odonata. This basic version of the algorithm (as mapped above) does not make use of “explanatory variables” (e.g. altitude, terrain roughness, presence of freshwater — we will be producing maps that take these variables into account soon). Currently, it only makes use of the OdonataMAP records for the species being mapped, as well as all the other records of all other species. The basic maps are “optimistic” and will generally show ranges to be larger than what they probably are.

These maps use the data in the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum, and also the database assembled by the previous JRS funded project, which was led by Professor Michael Samways and Dr KD Dijkstra.

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.