African Piedspot (Hemistigma albipunctum)

The photo above (by Georg Jacobs) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Hemistigma albipunctum, commonly known as the African Piedspot is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Small Size

Length up to 38mm; Wingspan reaches 63mm.

Males are readily identifiable, but could be mistaken for a male Skimmer (Orthetrum spp.), or other small, pale blue dragonflys like the Inspector (Chalcostephia flavifrons).

The male African Piedspot can be told by the combination of bi-coloured pterostigmas, the smoky streaks in the forewings, the slender abdomen and black and white face.

Females can be identified by the bi-coloured pterostigmas, the black-tipped wings and the cream-coloured stripe that runs from behind the eyes to the start of the abdomen.

Hemistigma albipunctum – Male
Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Hemistigma albipunctum – Female
Isimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Frequents the still or slow-moving reaches of marshes, floodplains, pans, dams and rivers. Favours sites with an abundant growth of sedge, grasses and reeds in shallow water. Occurs mostly in the warmer coastal and savanna regions.

Habitat – Grass and sedge filled pan
Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Perches on plant stems over the water. Hunts from a perch and usually re-settles at a different spot. Often fairly confiding when approached.

Status and Conservation

Hemistigma albipunctum is locally common in South Africa. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Readily utilises suitable man-made habitats.

Distribution

Widespread across Sub-Saharan Africa, occuring in West, Central, East and Southern Africa. In South Africa it is largely confined to the NE, where it is found in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. It is most common in coastal KwaZulu-Natal.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for African Piedspot 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.