Highland Dropwing, Trithemis dorsalis, Hooglandvalvlerkie.

115 510 eddie 13A4855
100 2044 T  Female Kloofzight GP RSA Nov 2015r 1
100 2046 Trithemis dorsalis Highland Dropwing Ring Kloofzight GP RSA Nov 2015r 1
Short description:

Highland Dropwing, Trithemis dorsalis, Hooglandvalvlerkie is medium sized and deep blue.

Family Libellulidae Leach, 1815

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  • Face is light yellow brown, dark brown and black.
  • Eyes are dark purple brown, lighter below.
  • Thorax and abdomen deep blue.
  • Wings clear, small basal amber patch present on hindwing. Ax veins creamy to yellow. Last Ax vein crosses the subcostal vein to join the radial vein (called Ax vein complete.) 10-12½ Ax in Fw [8½-14½]


  • Yellowish with black markings.
  • Thorax has two pairs of diagonal black zigzag lines on either side. Wings have small smoky patches near bases and at nodus.
  • Abdomen has a wide black band running along the top.
  • Pterostigmas are yellowish brown, becoming dark brown with age.
  • Standing waters, rivers and streams in open landscapes. Often with emergent vegetation and a soft (like muddy) bottom. 
  • From 0 to 2400 m above sea level, but mostly between 1000 and 2100.
  • Mostly streams, but also rivers, in open landscapes and open areas in forest.
  • Often with emergent vegetation and rocks. From 0 to 2500 m above sea level, but mostly below 2000.
Compared with other species:
  • Almost impossible distinguish the male Highland Dropwing from the male Navy Dropwing in the field.
  • Presence of small white stripe on the outer sides of the pterostigma would suggest the Highland Dropwing,
  • Presence of a white patch in the form of a Nike logo in the pterostigma would suggest the Navy Dropwing.
  • Further corroborating habits include its high elevation territory (co-habitats in the mid altitudes) and still water habitat. Tendency to perch on grasses.
  • The only definitive identification characteristic is the shape of the hamule hook, which is rounded in the Highland Dropwing, but claw-shaped in the Navy Dropwing.
Trithemis Dorsalis Highland Dropwing Distribution Map May 2020








South Africa:

  • Most of South Africa, but with little known presence in the dry central and western interior.  


  •  Angola; Burundi; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Kenya; Mozambique; Republic of South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Further reading:

Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 668870
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species



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