Tropical Bluetail, Ischnura senegalensis, Hemelstertjie

108 020 Ischnura senegalensis  Wolseley Western Cape

Ischnura senegalensis Tropical Bluetail

 Mating Pair

Short Description:

Tropical Bluetail Ischnura senegalensis is small sized with apple green, blue, greenish blue and black markings on thorax and very distinctive bright cobalt blue markings on the abdominal tip.

Previously known as Marsh Bluetail.

Family Coenagrionidae       (Kirby, 1890)

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Key identification features:


  • Face greenish blue and black with fine covering of whitish hairs. Labrum green or greenish blue with black base and edged in yellow. Anteclypeus green or greenish blue. Postclypeus shiny black, finely edged in light green. Frons light green. Head dull black from above with bronze sheen, with two round bright blue postocular spots.
  • Eyes black above, greenish blue below.
  • Neck shiny black above, green on collar and below. Thorax with distinct hairy down over shiny black surface with mauve sheen, sharply defined yellowish to greenish (sometimes blue) stripes, sides bright light green or greenish blue (sometimes sky blue).
  • Wings clear. Pterostigmas blackish in inner half, bright blue in outer half.
  • Segments 1 to 7 shiny black above, segment 2 with distinct metallic sheen. Fine bright blue ring present between segments 1 and 2. Segment 1 and especially segment 2 with round blue patches that are continuous with the light area below when seen from side. Segments 3 to 7 buff below, segment 8 bright blue, segment 9 shiny black above and blue below, segment 10 shiny black above and buff below. Hind margin of segment 10 with raised process with two peaks.
  • Inferior appendages prominent, pointed, with black tips.
  • This species is often parasitized by small mites (Arrrenurus spp. Small orange ball like, sometimes tightly packed against each other)


  • Very variable in colour with two primary colour forms one of which is bluish and very similar to male. The other form is bright rufus brown and black, mostly black along thorax and last eight segments of abdomen from above, thorax almost entirely Rufus from side. Postclypeus shiny black and top of head metallic black contrasting strongly with pale band running across front of frons in both forms.Orange form (immature) is more distinctive. Blue, green brown and black variations have been recorded
Compared with other species:
  • Standing and often temporary waters, rivers, streams and possibly large lakes in open landscapes. Often with emergent and aquatic vegetation.
    Tolerates conditions avoided by other species, e.g. rather saline, with high organic input from animals or near hot springs. Absent from forested areas.
  • From 0 to 2700 m above sea level, but mostly below 1800.
  • It is conspicuous when it flits and rests among reeds, sedge and grasses in marshy areas. Mating pairs are common.
Compared with other species:
Distribution Map May 2020

Ischnura senegalensis Tropical Bluetail Distribution Africa Map Aug 2021









South Africa:

  •  Common and widespread in South Africa. Also found in the arid areas permitting the preferred habitat is available. 


  • Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Chad; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Djibouti; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinee-Bissau; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Republic of South Africa; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Socotra (Yemen); Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Western Sahara; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Further Reading:

A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online