108 020 Ischnura senegalensis Tropical Bluetail Male Wolseley Western Cape 15 10 2016 117 021 Ischnura senegalensis Tropical Bluetail 117 020 Ischnura senegalensis Tropical Bluetail

Tropical Bluetail. Hemelstertjie.

Previously known as Marsh Bluetail.

(Rambur, 1842)

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Images in nature of Tropical Bluetail. Hemelstertjie.

Short Description:


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

Key identification features:

Thorax has distinct hairy down over shiny black surface with mauve sheen, sharply defined yellowish to greenish (sometimes blue) stripes, sides bright apple-green, light green or greenish blue (sometimes sky blue) and black markings  Pterostigmas are dissimilar with the front wing Pt bicoloured,( with black nearer to the thorax and blue on the outside). The hindwing has plain grey Pt. This species is often parasitized by small mites (Arrrenurus spp. Small orange ball like, sometimes tightly packed against each other)
Females are very variable in colour. The orange form (immature) is more distinctive.

Compared with other species:

Easily mistaken for Sprite (Pseudagrion Group A and Group B   sp.) or Bluet (Africalagma sp.or Azuragrion sp.) but s8-10 is diagnostic on I. senegalensis.

Distribution and habitat:

Common and widespread in South Africa. Also found in the arid areas permitting the preferred habitat is available.
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, sedges andgrasses in marshy areas. Mating pairs are common.

Further Reading:

 Distribution Map

A Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa
...p. 86
Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa
...p. 98
DragonflyBiotic Index...p. 90
The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa...p. 70 
Warwick Tarboton
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa

Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 6664750
The UICN Red List of Threatened Species
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram Dragonflies, Damselflies
Morphology of a Dragonfly, Damselfly
Map of South Africa


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