Dancing Jewel. Klipjuweeltjie.
Family Chlorocyphidae Cowley, 1937
- Platycypha caligata (Selys, 1853)
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Small, stocky, with a colourful thorax, orange, red and black, upper abdomen brilliant blue, legs leaf-like and bright red on the front and white on the back.
Key identification features:
- Face all black, head with almost square bluish green patch with two forward pointing, light orange, triangular markings when viewed from above. Neck blackish with orange splashes. Distinct pig-like snouted nose.
- Eyes dark brown to black
- Thorax above is black with a cream to bluish green, central line and spot. Synthorax sides with black, orange and red stripes
- Legs are legs leaf-like and bright red on the front and white on the back.
- Wings are clear but a little smoky at the base with black pterostigmas.
- Abdomen stocky, almost entirely bright blue (change from dark blue when cold to light grey/blue when warm), first three segments with deep red and black markings at the base. Segmental joints marked by fine black rings. Appendages black. Inferior appendage pincer-like and long. Superior appendages has gently rounded blade on tip
- Young males and females similar
- Thorax pattern similar to male, overall yellow to buff mottled with blackish brown markings. Pterostigmas black with buff centre.
Distribution and habitat:
Endemic to Tropical Africa. In South Africa not visible in the dry central parts and the Western Cape.
Favours shady but with sunny patches streams and rivers of the north, east and south eastern parts of South Africa.
- Mostly resting on boulders, twigs or leaf blades in/over the water.
- Flight is short, strong and bee-like.
- Display elaborate court ship dance where the male hovers in front of the resting female, with legs dangling and waving, with the white very conspicuous. This dancing display in flight is the origin of the name Dancing Jewel
Compared with other species:
- A. fitzsimonsi (Boulder Jewel) has a blue, black and red upper abdomen.
- P. caligata has an all blue upper abdomen.
|Websites of interest:
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 661180
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
The IUCN Red list of threatened Species Least Concern