Nesciothemis farinosa, Eastern BlacktailNesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktaill Young Male Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017Eastern Blacktail Female Jan 2016

Eastern Blacktail.     Swartstertskepper

Family Libellulidae Leach, 1815
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Eastern Blacktail ImagesNesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017Young MaleNesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Male Close up RdW LP RSA Dec 2019Mature MaleNesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Female Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017Female




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Short description:

Fairly large sized with a black head, black eyes, very pale powdery bluish-grey thorax and abdomen. Last section of the abdomen is black with yellow stripes.

Key identification features:

Male:

  • Face light brown below, dark brown above. Labrum dark brown with deep yellow margin. Anteclypeus, postclypeus and lower frons mottled light grey to dark brown. Frons shiny black and dimpled on top. Head dull black above, dimpled with minute peaks. Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017 Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017
  • Eyes deep brownish black above, dark grey below. Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017
  • Thorax blue/grey pruinose with age, When young yellow with brown stripes Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017 Dorsal thorax pruinose from brown before lateral thorax. When young distinctive cream line runs all the way along neck and over thorax between wing bases to base of abdomen but will pruinose to grey with age leaving, the grey strip between the wings visible Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017Thorax covered with dense, pale bluish grey pruinescence.   
  • Wings clear to slightly smoky becoming smokier with age.Older males have dark wing tips similar to younger females. Veins near the basal end of wing pruinose to grey Pterostigmas deep yellowish brown, 4.2–4.5 mm long.
  • Abdomen straight narrowing from s 6 to a point at the claspers. Segments 1 - 5, like thorax, with pale bluish grey pruinescence. S  6 - 10 black with yellow markings above.The yellow marking  become faint or disappear with age. Abdominal s 9-10 never become pruinose and s 7-8 rarely so.Dark claspers.Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017  100 2029 Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017r 9

Females

  • Thorax light brown on sides, dark brown above. 100 2012 Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Female Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017r 6 Distinctive cream line runs all the way along neck and over thorax between wing bases to base of abdomen.Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Female Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017
  • Wings clear, but brown at tips, becoming clear, and finally smoky with age. Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Female Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017
  • Abdomen light yellowish brown with a dark brown line running either side of length of abdomen. 100 2018 Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Female Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017r 17 100 2019 Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Female Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017r 18 Distinct yellowish foliations on s 8, with dark brown margins.100 2018 Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Female Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017r 17
Similarities with other species:
  • Habits and appearance similar to Orthetrum.
  • Mature Orthetrum (Skimmers) have bluish eyes. Orthetrum stemmale Bold Skimmer Male Close up Kozibay KZN RSA Mch 2019 In the Easter Blacktail, N. farinosa, the eyes become dark brown dorsally.  Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017 Nesciothemis farinosa Eastern Blacktail Close up Male Hertzogberg MP Nov 2017
  • Mature Orthetrum species appear whitish to light bluish Orthetrum machadoi Highland Skimmer Male1 Haenertsburg LP RSA Dec 2015 , Eastern Blacktail, N. farinosa, contrast with their densely pale pruinose thorax and black abdomen tip Nesciothemis farinosa, Eastern Blacktail. Black-and-yellow when teneral and pruinose with maturity. However, abdominal segments 9-10 never become pruinose and segments 7-8 rarely so, being black.
  • Very distinctive. In the northern and eastern parts of South Africa it may be confused with the Deceptive Widow, Palpopleura deceptor Palpopleura deceptor Deceptive Widow Male RNR GP RSA Mch 2018 found in the same habitat. P. deceptor, has each forewing marked with a blackish streak and spot, and has bi-coloured pterostigmas, unlike the clear (or generally slightly smoky) wings of N. farinosa, with all yellow-brown pterostigmas.
  • The pale stripe on the top of the thorax of the female may be confused with the stripe on the female Two-striped Skimmer, Orthetrum caffrum, Orthetrum caffrum Two stripped Skimmer Male Moreletta GP RSA Oct 2016 but the wings of N. farinosa differs.
Distribution and habitat:

http://vmus.adu.org.za/vm_map_afr.php?&database=odonata&grid=2&outline=1&key=0&map=3&spp=667690Widespread in South Africa.
Occurs mostly at low elevations but sometimes reaches 1 200 m elevation.
Frequents pools, pans and especially sluggish reaches of rivers with an
abundance of reeds and tall grasses.

Behaviour:
  • Very conspicuous as it perches on reeds and makes short powerful hunting flight before it returns to its perch. Chase other species 
Further reading:
Website of interest
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 667690
The IUCN Red List of threatened Species
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
Warwick Tarboton
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa

 
 

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