The photo above (by Richard Johnstone) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.
Orthetrum abbotti, the Little Skimmer is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.
Length up to 38mm; Wingspan attains 60mm.
The smallest Orthetrum species in the region. In males the combination of small size, long, yellow pterostigmas and indistinct ‘spectacles on the face are often enough for a positive identification. However, fully pruinose males are best identified by the distinct shape of the secondary genitalia.
Females can be recognised by the long, yellow pterostigmas and plain, mostly unmarked thorax sides.
Inhabits boggy ground associated with marshes and seeps. Also found at marshy pools adjoining streams. Favours sites that are rich in emergent sedge and grasses. Mostly found in fairly open grassland habitats.
Hunts from a perch and usually returns to the same grass or sedge stem. The flight is fairly slow and weak. Confiding and generally reluctant to fly.
Status and Conservation
Locally common in South Africa. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Primarily found in natural habitats.
Orthetrum abbotti is found throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa. It also occurs in parts of the Middle-East and on Madagascar.
In South Africa it is found mainly in the Eastern and Central areas with localised populations in parts of the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. It is more common inland than along the coast.
Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Little Skimmer 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.