117 514 Orthetrum julia capicola Cape Skimmer 117 515 Orthetrum julia capicola Cape Skimmer 117 559 Orthetrum julia capicola Cape Skimmer

Julia Skimmer  Southern Form        Kaapse Skepper

Previously classified Orthetrum Julia Capicola

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117 514 Orthetrum julia capicola Cape Skimmer 124 503 Orthtetrum julia capicola Cape Skimmer Male LP RSA April 2017r 3
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Short description:

Cape Skimmer, (Julia Skimmer, Southern Form), Orthetrum julia capola, Genus Orthetrum, Family Libellulidae. is fairly large sized, robust with a brownish to bluish, weakly mottled and striped thorax, and a light blue abdomen.

Secial Note:

  • In older books Orthetrum julia is divided into two sub-species Orthetrum julia falsum and Orthetrum julia capicola. Currently the two sub-species are regarded as colour variants rather than sub-species. Much research is still needed to confirm the true identity of these two colour variants/sub-species. Records are emerging from the Eastern Cape area that appears that interbreeding of the two variants occur.
  • For clarity purposes we will continue describing these two species separately
Key identification features:


  • Lenght 38 - 44 - 46mm, wingspan 60 - 68 - 74mm, pterostigmas 3 - 3.5mm
  • Face light grey.
  • Labium cream with central dark brown spear shape that does not the front margin, as in the northern form
  • Labrum is all cream in the Cape form, light grey with a black edge in the northern form
  • Eyes dark turquoise.
  • Thorax mottled brownish with blue pruinescence, bluish green shoulder stripe present, thorax can become all pruinescent blue. Thorax lighter in Cape form with two light greyish blue side stripes, which are not pruinescent. Long pruinescent stripe present between wing bases
  • Wings clear, becoming smoky with age, especially at tips. Small dark brown splashes present at bases of the wings, especially hindwings
  • Pterostigmas reddish brown, blackish brown to black in the northern form.
  • Abdomen of medium build all pruinescent blue (S 7- 10 may be dark disappearing with age)


  • Striped, all light and dark brown, tends to be pinkish in Cape form.
  • Foliations strong, black.
  • Thorax heavily striped all over in northern form.
  • Abdomen segments 1 to 6 alternately striped, segments 7 to 10 almost entirely blackish (may have light brown spots on both sides of dorsal carina.)
  • Wings clear to heavily smoky in some old individuals
  • Pterostigmas dark brown to blackish
Compared with other species:
  • Orthetrum julia capicola, Cape Skimmer, differs from Orthetrum julia falsum (Julia Skimmer), in having pale not black pterostigmas.
  • Cerci of O. julia falsum has white tip.
  • Males are easily confused with Orthetrum caffrum (Two-striped Skimmer) where the pale diagonal stripes on the thorax are more visible than in O. julia capicola. O. julia Caffrum also has a cream stripe between the wings as opposed to light blue in O. capicola.
  • Females are more rufous than O. julia falsum.
Distribution and habitat:
  • Widespread and common in the Southern and Eastern Cape. There are records from the eastern Cape that indicates possible cross-breeding between the two variants/sub-species
  • Frequents mostly streams, but also standing and often temporary waters, headwaters, seeps and springs, mostly shaded by gallery forest, but also shaded by forest, in open areas in forest or open landscapes. Often with a soft (like muddy) bottom, probably pools in stream beds. From 0 to 2500 m above sea level, but mostly below 1600.
  • Conspicuous wherever it perches,
  • Favours grass stems or overhanging vegetation at water. Often chases intruders.
Further reading:
Orthetrum julia capicola. Cape Skimmer Books:
A Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa
p 160

Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa
 ... p 184
The Dragonflies and Damselflies Of Eastern Africa ... p 182
Dragonfly Biotic Index ... p 147
Websites of interest:

Warwick Tarboton

A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 667890
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
The IUCR Red list of threatened Species
Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram: Dragonflies and Damselflies

Identification and Morphology of a Dragonfly or Damselfly
Map of South Africa




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