Dancing Jewel    Platycypha caligata    Dansende Juweeltjie.     Africa

100 052 Platycypha calgata Dancing Jewel Mooinooi NWP RSA

100 057 Platycypha calgata Dancing Jewel Young Male Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017r 1

100 001 Dancing jewel Female Nwanedi LP RSA Dec 2015 r 1 of 1

Family Chlorocyphidae Cowley, 1937
Short description:

Small, stocky, with a colourful thorax, orange, red and black, upper abdomen brilliant blue, legs leaf-like and bright red on the front and white on the back.

More images: 

100 052 Platycypha calgata Dancing Jewel Mooinooi NWP RSA MCH 2015r 5Image Album

100 002 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NWP RSA Jan 2016r 2Male

102 016 2018 01 31 Ezemvelo klein kop toraksFemale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Key identification features:

Male

  • Face all black, head with almost square bluish green patch with two forward pointing, light orange, triangular markings when viewed from above. Neck blackish with orange splashes. Distinct pig-like snout nose. 100 006 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NP RSA Jan 2016 r 11 of 11
  • Eyes dark brown to black  100 006 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NP RSA Jan 2016 r 11 of 11 
  • Thorax above is black with a cream to bluish green, central line and spot. Synthorax sides with black, orange and red stripes 100 049 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NP RSA Jan 2016 r 5 of 11  100 049 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NP RSA Jan 2016 r 5 of 11
  • Legs are legs leaf-like and bright red on the front and white on the back.  100 002 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NWP RSA Jan 2016r 2
  • Wings are clear but a little smoky at the base with black pterostigmas.
  • Abdomen stocky, almost entirely bright blue (change from dark blue when cold to light grey/blue when warm), first three segments with deep red and black markings at the base. Segmental joints marked by fine black rings. 100 155 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NWP RSA Jan 2016r 1    Appendages black. Inferior appendage pincer-like and long. Superior appendages has gently rounded blade on tip
  • Young males  100 057 Platycypha calgata Dancing Jewel Young Male Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017r 1 and females similar 101 019 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Tshipise December 2015 11

Females:

  • Thorax pattern similar to male, 102 016 2018 01 31 Ezemvelo klein kop toraks overall yellow to buff mottled with blackish brown markings. Pterostigmas black with buff centre.
Distribution and habitat:

Platycypha Caligata Dancing Jewel VMU Map 05 2020Endemic to Tropical Africa. In South Africa found in the north, east and south eastern parts not visible in the dry central parts and the Northern Cape.
Mostly rivers, but also streams and large lakes, in open landscapes or sometimes shaded by gallery forest.
Usually with dead trunks or branches, often emergent vegetation and a soft (like muddy) bottom, and probably submerged roots and/or coarse detritus
From 0 to 2000 m above sea level, but mostly below 1800.

Behaviour:
  • Mostly resting on boulders, twigs or leaf blades in/over the water.
  • Flight is short, strong and bee-like.
  • Display elaborate court ship dance where the male hovers in front of the resting female, with legs dangling and waving, with the white very conspicuous. This dancing display in flight is the origin of the name Dancing Jewel
Compared with other species:
  • A. fitzsimonsi (Boulder Jewel) has a blue, black and red upper abdomen. 117 042 Platycypha fitzsimonsi Boulder Jewel
  • P. caligata has an all blue upper abdomen.100 155 Platycypha caligata Dancing Jewel Buffelspoort NWP RSA Jan 2016r 1
Further reading:

Websites of interest:
The IUCN Red list of threatened Species       Least Concern 
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa

 
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