115 510 eddie 13A4855 100 2044 Trithemis dorsalis Highland Dropwing Female Kloofzight GP RSA Nov 2015r 1 100 2046 Trithemis dorsalis Highland Dropwing Ring Kloofzight GP RSA Nov 2015r 1

Highlands Dropwing.   Hooglandvalvlerkie.

Trithemis dorsalis (Rambur, 1842)
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117 563 Trithemis dorsalis Highland Dropwing 100 767 Trithemis dorsalis Highlands Dropwing Female Kromdraai GP RSA Nov 2016r 5
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Short description:

Trithemis dorsalis, Highland Dropwing, Genus Trithemis, Family Libellulidae, miedium sized and deep blue.

Key identification features:


  • Face is light yellow brown, dark brown and black.
  • Eyes are dark purple brown, lighter below.
  • Thorax and abdomen deep blue.
  • Wings clear, small basal amber patch present on hindwing. Last Ax vein crosses the subcostal vein to join the radial vein (called Ax vein complete.) 10-12½ Ax in Fw [8½-14½]


  • Yellowish with black markings.
  • Thorax has two pairs of diagonal black zigzag lines on either side. Wings have small smoky patches near bases and at nodus.
  • Abdomen has a wide black band running along the top.
  • Pterostigmas are yellowish brown, becoming dark brown with age.
Compared with other species:
  • Almost impossible distinguish the male Highland Dropwing from the male Navy Dropwing in the field.
  • Presence of small white stripe on the outer sides of the pterostigma would suggest the Highland Dropwing,
  • Presence of a white patch in the form of a Nike logo in the pterostigma would suggest the Navy Dropwing.
  • Further corroborating habits include its high elevation territory (co-habitats in the mid altitudes) and still water habitat. Tendency to perch on grasses.
  • The only definitive identification characteristic is the shape of the hamule hook, which is rounded in the Highland Dropwing, but claw-shaped in the Navy Dropwing.
Distribution and habitat:
  • Most of South Africa, but with little known presence in the dry central and western interior.
  • Standing waters, rivers and streams in open landscapes. Often with emergent vegetation and a soft (like muddy) bottom.
  • From 0 to 2400 m above sea level, but mostly between 1000 and 2100.
  • Mostly streams, but also rivers, in open landscapes and open areas in forest.
  • Often with emergent vegetation and rocks. From 0 to 2500 m above sea level, but mostly below 2000.
Further reading:
http://vmus.adu.org.za/vm_map_afr.php?&database=odonata&grid=2&outline=1&key=0&map=4&spp=668870 Books:
A Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa   p. 194
Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa    p. 181
Dragonfly Biotic Index p.   178
Websites of interest:
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 668870
Warwick Tarboton

A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram Dragonflies, Damselflies
Identification and morphology of a Dragonfly or a Damselfly
Map of South Africa



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