Yellow-veined Widow (Palpopleura jucunda)

View the above photo (by Peter Webb) in OdonataMAP here.

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

Family Libellulidae

Palpopleura jucunda YELLOW-VEINED WIDOW


Very Small

Length up to 27mm; Wingspan reaches 42mm.

Both sexes possess distinctive colouration along with small size and a squat build. They are unlike any other species in the region. Males and females have richly patterned black, brown and yellow wings.

Click here for more details on identification.

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


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


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.


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, 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.