Halfshade Dropwing     Trithemis aconita     Skaduvalvlerkie

100 635 Trithemis aconita Halfshade dropwing Male Nwanedi LP RSA Dec 2015r 3

100 1382Trithemis aconita Halfshade dropwing Male Ezemvelo GP RSA Sept 2017r 1

102 543 2016 12 24 Sabiepark Halfshade wyfie 13

Family Libellulidae Leach, 1815

Previously known as Monkshood Dropwing 

Short description:

Small sized, slender and dark blueish black, with yellowish brown dashes on the abdomen.

More Images:

100 634 Trithemis aconita Halfshade dropwing Male Nwanedi LP RSA Dec 2015r 1Image Gallery

100 1386 Trithemis aconita Halfshade dropwing Nwanedi LP RSA Dec 2016r 3Male

100 3042 Trithemis aconita Halfshade dropwing Female Close up Songimvelo MP RSA Febr 2019r 2Female

102 546 2016 12 24 Trithemis aconita Halfshade dropwing Female CloseSabiepark 1 alfshadeFemale Old







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Key identification features:


  • Face contrasting dull yellow, black and brown. Labium light yellow with central dark brown stripe. Labrum black. Anteclypeus dull yellow with dark brown stripe running across it. Postclypeus and front of frons dull yellow. Top of frons and top of head dimpled, shiny, metallic purplish black. Short stripe runs down side of frons against eyes.
  • Eyes dark bluish black.
  • Thorax is pruinescent dark blue with dark banding and mottling showing through.
  • Wings slightly smoky with a small split dark brown splash at base of hindwing. (small brown patch, normally excluding triangle but extending onto anal field). Pterostigmas orange brown between dark brown veins, 3 mm long. Ax veins  in forewing 9½-12½ rarely up to 14½
  • Abdomen slender brownish black with yellowish dashes on top of the abdomen. Segments 1 to 3 with indistinct yellow dashes. Segments 4 to 8 with pairs of narrow yellow dashes on each  segment. Segments 9 and 10 black.


  • Similar to male, stouter, less pruinescence on thorax so brown mottling and streaking more clearly visible.
  • Abdomen black with yellow dashes.
  • Hindwing has small, basal, amber patch
Compared with other species:
  • Similar to T. stricta (Jaunty Dropwing), but much darker.
  • T. aconite prefers forest streams and rivers less in the open than
  • T. Hecate (Silhouette Dropwing), prefers standing water in marches and floodplains
Distribution and habitat:

Trithemis aconita Halfshade Dropwing Distribtion Map May 2020Localised to Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal and further north into East and West Africa.
Prefers standing waters, rivers and streams shaded by gallery forest, but also in open areas in forest.
Especially pools in stream beds, usually with coarse detritus, often a soft (like muddy) bottom and/or probably emergent vegetation.
From altitude 0 to 1700 m above sea level, but mostly below 1300.

  • Alert as it perches on twigs under tree (often high up) canopy over water.
  • Easily overlooked.
Further reading:

Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 668740
The IUCN Red list of Threatened Species   (Least Concern) 
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa



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