- In the Old World over 80 species.
- About 50% in Africa
Southern African Region
- 1 genus (Orthetrum) and 15 species
- Common and conspicuous at most freshwater habitats, especially when these are open
- Many can be found almost anywhere in tropical Africa, although they tend to prefer (or are dominant in) certain habitats
- Refer to African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online for an analysis of species or groups of species per habitat
The knowledge of preferred habitat will greatly assist in the identification of a species
The correct identification of Skimmers, are not easy. Mature male acquire a greyish sheen. This sheen masks the colours and markings visible when immature.
- All male skimmers are blue/grey (pruinnosity) with age. The Long Skimmer O. Trinacria does not pruinose
- Mature males appear very similar due to their blue-grey pruinosity, obscuring all coloration and markings.
- Many species differ by markings, but these get obscured by pruinosity as the males grow older.
- Females and young males are similar in colour and markings. Most are yellow to brown with distinctive black markings
- Turquoise eyes with whitish face is characteristic. The Long Skimmer O. trinacria has blue eyes with brownish face.
- Size range, from small to very large (hindwing 22-50 mm)
- In hand it is useful to inspect
- Size (length and wingspan)and compare with given data
- Length of pterostigmas (unusually long or short)
- Wing venation and vein colours
- With young males or females, compare thorax and abdomen markings
- Where possible the shape of secondary genitalia
- Distinguishing Orthetrum species is often considered difficult
- Assess the size (length and wing span and pterostigmas)
- The subcostal sections of Ax can be dorsally dark (like the costal sections) or pale (normally visible on a good image)
- The number of doubled cells in the radial planate (count those cells touching Rspl, but not IR3) may differ between species
- Check the male’s secondary genitalia to confirm identification. Compare the profile of the anterior lamina, genital lobe, inner and outer hamules with known examples
- Only males are shown
- To view females follow the menu links to the species description page