Jaunty Dropwing (Trithemis stictica)

The photo above (by Gerhard Diedericks) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Find this species in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Libellulidae

Trithemis stictica JAUNTY DROPWING


Small size

Length up to 38mm; Wingspan reaches 66mm.

Males are distinctive and unmistakable within South Africa. There are other very similar species further north in Africa, notably Trithemis palustris (Marsh Dropwing).

Females can be easily confused with other dropwing species. Trithemis stictica females can be told by the thick, unsmudged black markings on the sides of the thorax and the bold black and yellow abdomen pattern.

Click here for more details on identification.

Trithemis stictica – Male
Wilge River, Free State
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Trithemis stictica – Female
Near Oyster Bay, Eastern Cape
Photo by Desire Darling


Inhabits the vegetated margins of still water environments, such as marshes, pans, dams and quiet backwaters of rivers and streams. Seldom found at running water. Jaunty Dropwings prefer areas rich in vegetation, like sedges, reeds and emergent grass.

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


Jaunty Dropwings are perch hunters and spend as much time perched as they do darting off to intercept prey, or to chase off a rival. They like to sit in open, sunny positions. During the heat of the day they can often be seen in the obelisk position, pointing the abdomens at the sun to reduce the amount of direct sunlight on their bodies.

Status and Conservation

Trithemis stictica is a common and widespread species. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is reasonably tolerant of habitat degradation and is commonly found at suitable man-made water bodies.


This species has a wide distribution throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa and is also found on Madagascar.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Jaunty Dropwing 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, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science projects coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. 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 OdonataMAP project. Rene Navarro is the genius behind the Virtual Museum. 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.