Dancing Jewel, Platycypha caligata, Dansende Juweeltjie.
Dancing Jewel, Platycypha caligata, Dansende Juweeltjie is 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.
Family Chlorocyphidae Cowley, 1937
Click on all images to view more or enlarge
Key identification features:
- 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.
- Eyes dark brown to black
- Thorax above is black with a cream to bluish green, central line and spot. Synthorax sides with black, orange and red stripes
- Legs are legs leaf-like and bright red on the front and white on the back.
- 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. Appendages black. Inferior appendage pincer-like and long. Superior appendages has gently rounded blade on tip
- Young males and females similar
- Thorax pattern similar to male, overall yellow to buff mottled with blackish brown markings. Pterostigmas black with buff centre.
- 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.
- 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.
- P. caligata has an all blue upper abdomen.
- North, east and south eastern parts not found in the dry central parts and the Northern Cape.
- Endemic to Tropical Africa
- Angola; Botswana; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ethiopia; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Republic of South Africa; Rwanda; South Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe