Little Skimmer Kleinskepper.
Orthetrum abbotti Calvert, 1892
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Little Skimmer, Orthetrum abbotti, Genus Orthetrum, Family Libellulidae, small to medium-sized, all pale blue with slightly smoky wings and long, light-brown pterostigmas. Smallest sized Orthetrum specie in Southern African region. The body length is <40mm.
Key identification features:
- Length 33 - 35 - 38 mm, wingspan 52 - 56 - 60 mm, Pterostigmas 3.5 - 4 mm
- Male all grey when mature
- Eyes are light bluish turquoise below and dark greyish blue above.
- Face narrow, mostly pale grey. Labium and labrum cream. Anteclypeus, postclypeus and frons light grey, each edged in black. In the frons a spectacled shaped mark is visible.Head dimpled shiny black with small peaks above
- Thorax of the male is unmarked. Light creamy yellow with, light green and brown on dorsal thorax becoming pruinosed grey, starting at the dorsal thorax becoming a pale greyish blue pruinosity when old . Whew young small parts of the thorax may not pruinose leading to stripy mottled contrast between the yellowish green ground colour and the blue pruinosity. The humeral suture (thin black curvy line at the shoulder delineating the dorsal thorax and lateral thorax segments ) distinctively black and remains visible till the thorax is pruinosed with age
- Wings slightly smoky with darker smoky patches reaching halfway along wing when young. Costa and antenodal crossveins (Ax) are yellowish. 1 row in radial planate, sum of cell-doublings 0-10 [0-14}. Pterostigmas long and somewhat swollen , usually 12.5% ( 3.5 - 4 mm) of hindwing length or more giving the impression of very long Pt relative to the wing
- Abdomen is usually shorter than hindwing. When young at least s 4-7 with pale longitudinal streaks, at most s 9-10 all dark, although marking on s 8 can be tiny, becoming all pale, greyish blue pruinescent when old. Abdomen dorsal carina and lateral carina black. The immature male abdomen has greenish yellow and brown side. Appendages are very distinctive and dark with cerci always black. Epiproct black on side yellowish inside sharply curved and shorter then cerci
- Secondary genitalia with a long posterior hamule. Space between hook and lobe of hamule usually narrow or closed
- Face all greenish cream, unmarked except for two blackish markings on upper surface of frons next to eyes.
- Head dark brown above with low peaks.
- Thorax greenish cream, virtually unmarked except for darkening of sutures. Dorsal surface covered with minute blackish spines giving a fine spotted appearance.
- Wings slightly smoky with darker smoky patches reaching halfway along wing. Costa yellow.
- Abdomen short (less than wing length), uniformly swollen with no taper. Light yellowish green and brown with dark brown lateral markings starting on segment 4, becoming wider and joining on s 8. S 9 all dark brown. S 10 yellowish behind with two fine black dots. Fine blackish line runs along top of abdomen from s 3 to 8 with paired dark markings at ends of each of s 3 to 7. A black line starting mid dorsal s 7 broadening to the jindmarhin of s 9. has the form of a slender arrowhead with broadest at hind margin of s 9 Small yellow marks on dorsal s 10 Appendages very small.
Compared with other species:
- Face has ‘spectacles’ but not as developed as in the Spectacled Skimmer (O. icteromelas).
- One of three all pale skimmers (the other two being O. hintzi en O. machadoi ).
- O. abbotti has a distinctly light grey and lightly spectacled face.
Distribution and habitat:
North and eastern parts of South Africa with few record in the central parts. Localised in the Western and Eastern Cape,
Generally found in more open habitats with still water swampy like pools, dams and still parts of streams
and rivers with an abundance of short grasses, reeds, sedge and submerged aquatic vegetation.
From 0 to 2200 m above sea level, but mostly below 1900.
- Weak flight, frequently returning to same grass or reed perch.
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 667780
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species