100 902 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Malelane Sept 2016r 1 102 517 Marmoth 2016 04 13 marmoth 102 519 Marmoth 2016 11 06 rust de wnter

Violet Dropwing     Purpervalvlerkie

Trithemis annulata (Palisot de Beauvois, 1807)

Also known as Violet-marked Darter, Purple-blushed Darter or Plum-coloured Dropwing

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100 903 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Malelane Sept 2016r 2 100 2025 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Close UP RNR GP RSA Mch 2018r 1 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Tshipise LP RSA Oct 2016 100 2117 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Female Close up Cape Vidal KZN Apr 2016r 25
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Short description:

Violet Dropwing, Trithemis annulata, Genus Trithemis, Family Libellulidae is small to medium sized, distinctly stout and violet red.

Key identification features:


  • Labrum is deep red with oval dark brown patch on the lower margin. Anteclypeus, postclypeus and front of frons deep red with the top of frons and top of head metallic deep reddish purple.Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Close UP RNR GP RSA Mch 2018  
  • Eyes are dark red with two whitish spots on hind margin. Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Close UP RNR GP RSA Mch 2018 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Close UP RNR GP RSA Mch 2018
  • Thorax is violet red (magenta), pruinescent, with dark stripes showing through on shoulder and at sides.  Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Close UP RNR GP RSA Mch 2018
  • Wings have distinctive red veins.
  • Hindwings have dark orange basal patches.
  • Pterostigmas orange brown with blackish front margins, 3 mm long.
  • Abdomen is fairly stout, pinkish violet, darkening with age to deep dark violet, with small fine deep purple dashes along the top of each segment. Segments 8 to 10 are red, with black dashes.


  • Similar in size, all dark brown, yellow and white. The
  • Pterostigmas and wing patches are similar than males but wings have orange rather than red veins.
  • Two thin lines on the side of the abdomen with a pattern of markings on the dorsal abdomen ending with broad black patches on 8-9 that is similar to male.
Compared with other species:
  • Male is similar to T. pluvialis. (Russet Dropwing)
  • Near strong flowing rivers in KZN (Ndumo and the northern interior), eastern Swaziland and the Kruger Park, T. annulata often cohabitate with the rare Elegant Dropwing, T. werneri.
  • Females and males of T. werneri, Elegant Dropwing, easily confused with T. annulata, Violet Dropwing 
  • T. werneri has well defined broad bands on both sides if abdominal segments with T. annulata thin light rings almost not visible.
  • Females of T. annulata, T. arteriosa, Red-veined Dropwing, T. pluvialis and T. werneri have distinct thorax markings. Dark zig-zag patterns but all are distinctly different. 
  • Lateral thorax markings of T. annulata are similar to that of T. kirbyi, Orange-winged Dropwing, but less distinct.
Distribution and habitat:
  • Locally Common in Eastern Cape, through KZN and the northern provinces Data now indicating presence in the Western Cape.
  • Mostly standing and often temporary waters, but also rivers, streams and possibly large lakes and flowing channels in marshes, in open landscapes, but sometimes in open areas in forest. Usually with emergent vegetation and often a soft muddy like bottom.
  • From 0 to 2000 m above sea level, but mostly below 1500.
  • Perches conspicuously on a twig or reed over the water.
  • Hunts by flying rapidly over reeds and water returning to perch very often at the same perch
  • On hot days and evenings, it moves away from the water and perches on the ends of twigs of high trees
Further reading:
http://vmus.adu.org.za/vm_map_afr.php?&database=odonata&grid=2&outline=1&key=0&map=4&spp=668660 Reference Books
A Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa
Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa

Dragonfly Biotic Index

Websites of interest
The IUCN Red list of Threatened Species
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 668660
Warwick Tarboton
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram: Dragonflies and Damselflies

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



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