Eastern Forestwatcher (Notiothemis jonesi)

The photo above (by John Wilkinson) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Notiothemis jonesi, commonly known as the Eastern Forestwatcher is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Small size

Length up to 33mm; Wingspan attains 51mm.

The males of this species are unmistakable within the sub-region. The combination of mottled black and blue-green colouration, bright turquoise eyes and pale band on the S7 are diagnostic.

Females are easily confused with those of Tetrathemis polleni. The two species differ in the shape of the discoidal cell (DC) in the fore wings. Notiothemis jonesi has a triangular DC, while Tetrathemis polleni has a four-sided DC.

There is another closely related species, Notiothemis robertsi, found in the tropical forests of East, Central and West Africa.

Notiothemis jonesi – Male
Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Christopher Peter Small

Habitat

Frequents shady, slow moving stretches of forested streams and pools. It occurs in coastal, riverine and swamp forests in South Africa.

Behaviour

Perches on twigs or vegetation over the water in dappled light. Very alert and weary, heading to the canopy if disturbed. Females are seldom encountered.

Status and Conservation

Uncommon and very localised in occurence. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Distribution

Notiothemis jonesi is found in the tropical and subtropical parts of Eastern and Southern Africa. It occurs from Kenya to South Africa. It has also been recorded in Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Eastern Forestwatcher 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.

Eastern Blacktail (Nesciothemis farinosa)

The photo above (by Celeste Eastwood) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Nesciothemis farinosa, the Eastern Blacktail is a species of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Medium sized

Length up to 45mm; Wingspan attains 74mm.

Males are distinctive and easily recognisable with their white-blue bodies and black-tipped abdomens. Females are less distinctive, but the yellowish stripe that runs from behind the head down between the wings is diagnostic.

Males most resemble Palpopleura deceptor, but that species has a darker thorax and is much smaller. In addition Palpopleura deceptor has dark streaking in the fore-wings with bi-coloured pterostigmas.

Nesciothemis farinosa – Mature Male
Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tiuppett
Nesciothemis farinosa – Young Male
Mkuze Town, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Nesciothemis farinosa – Female
Enseleni Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Occupies a wide range of fresh water habitats, including both still and running waters. Makes use of rivers, streams, pans, dams and marshes. Usually frequents sites that are fringed by grass, sedge or reeds.

Habitat – Orange River, Near Upington, Northern Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Conspicuous, as it sits in the open on emergent plant stems. Hunts from a perch and the flight is relatively slow and flapping. Both sexes are found in the same areas.

Status and Conservation

Nesciothemis farinosa is common and is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Fairly resilient towards habitat degradation and commonly makes use of man-made habitats.

Distribution

The Eastern Blacktail is widespread throughout most of Southern, Central, and East Africa. The distribution also extends along the Nile Valley into Egypt and parts of the Middle East. It is widespread in South Africa where it is only absent from much of the Karoo, although it does occur along the Orange River.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Eastern Blacktail 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.

Coastal Pennant (Macrodiplax cora)

The photo above (by Wil Leurs) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Macrodiplax cora, commonly known as Coastal or Cora’s Pennant is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Medium sized

Length up to 44mm; Wingspan attains 71mm.

The distinctive dumbell-shaped markings along the top of the abdomen are diagnostic in both sexes.

Most likely to be mistaken for Sympetrum fonscolombii or Urothemis assignata.

Macrodiplax cora can be recognised by the diagnostic markings on the abdomen, distinctive wing venation and the small, narrow amber panels in the hindwings.

Macrodiplax cora – Male
Eastern Shores, iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Photo by Wil Leurs

Habitat

Strictly coastal in South Africa, preferring the grassy fringes of estuaries, marshes and pans. May also be found away from water in coastal grasslands and bush. This species is tolerant of brackish water.

Habitat – Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Perches prominently on top of exposed sticks and other similar perches. Hunts from a perch and has a fast, powerful flight. Often returns to the same perch.

Status and Conservation

Scarce and erratic in occurence in South Africa. The coastal Pennant is listed locally and globally as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Almost the entirely of its South African range is protected within the iSimangaliso wetland Park. Locally, it has only been recorded in undamaged habitats.

Distribution

Macrodiplax cora is predominantly an Asian species and is widespread in tropical Asia and Australasia and also occurs on a number of Indian and Pacific Ocean Islands.

The occurence of this species in Africa is very interesting. The species has established a small resident population in coastal NE KwaZulu-Natal, ranging from St. Lucia up to Kosi Bay, and is also likely to occur in the neighboring part of southern Mozambique. It has also been recorded in coastal Somalia and on the island of Socotra.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Coastal Pennant 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.

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.

Dwarf Percher (Diplacodes pumila)

The photo above (by Alan Manson) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here. Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Dwarf Percher 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.

Barbet Percher (Diplacodes luminans)

The photo above (by John Wilkinson) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Diplacodes luminans, commonly known as the Barbet Percher is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Small size

Length up to 40mm; Wingspan reaches 66mm.

The males are unmistakable with their distinctive bright red, yellow and black colouration.

Females are very similar to Diplacodes lefebvrii females, but can be distinguished by having horizontal stripes along the sides at the base of the abdomen.

Diplacodes luminans – Male
Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Diplacodes luminans – Female
Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Inhabits a variety of still water environments. These include floodplains and marshes with well vegetated pools. Also occurs at grass and sedge lined pans, lakes and dams. They can on occasion be found at the marshy fringes of rivers.

Habitat – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Males sit conspicuously at the tips of reeds and sedges over the water. The flight is fast and darting and they quickly return to a perch. Females can be found in the same areas as the males but they are more common further from the water among trees and bushes.

Status and Conservation

A common, but localised species. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Adaptable and fairly resistant to habitat degradation. It occurs commonly at well vegetated man-made habitats.

Distribution

Widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Barbet Percher 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.

Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii)

The photo above (by Richard Johnstone) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here. Diplacodes lefebvrii is a species of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae known commonly as the Black Percher or Black Ground Skimmer. Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Black Percher 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.

Little Scarlet (Crocothemis sanguinolenta)

The photo above (by Sharon Stanton) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Crocothemis sanguinolenta, commonly known as the Little Scarlet is a species of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Small Size

Length up to 38mm; Wingspan reaches 63mm.

Males are best identified by their stout, pointed abdomens with feint black lateral spots and pale red pterostigmas. The intensity of the red colouration is variable and ranges from washed out pink-red to shiny, vivid red.

The colouration of females is also variable, ranging from yellowish-brown to pink-brown to red.

This species is most similar to Crocothemis erythraea, but that species is larger and has a broader abdomen lacking lateral black spots. Crocothemis erythraea also has longer yellowish, as opposed to reddish pterostigmas.

Crocothemis sanguinolenta – Old Male
Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Crocothemis sanguinolenta – Young Male
Photo by John Wilkinson
Crocothemis sanguinolenta – Female
Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Mostly associated with the flowing water of streams and rivers. Prefers more open sites with abundant rocks and gravelly substrate. Also frequents rocky ponds in mountainous areas.

Habitat – Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Mostly perches on bare ground or on rocks. Very occasionally perches on stream side vegetation. Interestingly, non-breeding males that spend periods away from water become less brightly coloured in washed out red to pink.

Status and Distribution

Crocothemis sanguinolenta is a common species and is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Reliance on flowing river and stream habitat means it does not readily adapt to man-made habitats.

Distribution

Found virtually throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Also occurs in northern Madagascar and parts of the Middle East.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Little Scarlet 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.

Horned Rockdweller (Bradinopyga cornuta)

The photo above (by Ronelle White) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here. Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Horned Rockdweller 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.

Red Groundling (Brachythemis lacustris)

The photo above (by Rob Dickinson) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Brachythemis lacustris, commonly known as the Red Groundling is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Very small size

Length up to 27mm; Wingspan reaches 49mm.

Males are most similar to Trithemis kirbyi. Both species are bright red with amber wing panels. Brachythemis lacustris differs in having a squat build, with shorter, broader abdomens and an un-tapered waist. In addition Brachythemis lacustris has bi-coloured pterostigmas and deep red-brown eyes with dark lines.

Females differ from Trithemis kirbyi by having a squat build, bi-coloured pterostigmas, different abdomen patterns and eyes with dark lines.

Brachythemis lacustris – Male
Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Brachythemis lacustris – Female
Ndumo Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photp by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Inhabits rivers and streams with an abundance of bank side reeds, sedges, trees, grass and other vegetation. Often frequents small, meandering channels where the water flow is weaker.

Habitat – Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Brachythemis lacustris is a gregarious species. Many individuals of both sexes and various ages, may be found on the same overhanging reed. Rather inconspicuous, despite the males bright colouration, as they tend to sit low down along the inside of river channels. Fairly confiding and reluctant to fly. Hunts tiny flying insect in short, darting flights before quickly returning to a perch.

Status and Conservation

Fairly common but highly localised. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is fairly sensitive to habitat disturbance and is found primarily in undisturbed habitats.

Distribution

Widely distributed over most of sub-Saharan Africa. In Southern Africa it is absent from the arid Kalahari, Namib and Karoo regions, as well as the more temperate Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Red Groundling 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.