Orange-winged Dropwing Trithemis kirbyi Oranjevalvlerkie
Previously known as Rock Dropwing or Kirby's Dropwing
Family Libellulidae (Leach, 1815)
Small to medium sized, bright orange red dragonfly, with diagnostic large orange splashes on all wings.
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- Guide to Dropwings - General (Trithemis)
- Guide to Dropwings - Blue
- Guide to Dropwings - Red/Orange/Brown
Key identification features:
- Face bright light red. Labium yellow brown, unmarked. Labrum, anteclypeus, postclypeus and entire frons bright light red. Frons has two prominent peaks visible in both male and female.. Top of head brownish red with high peaks.
- Eyes bright red above, darker below becoming grayish at the lower margin
- Thorax bright red above, deep red on sides with browner areas and short black wavy lines Lighter creamy brown stipe in middle of thorax . Legs mostly orange
- Wings with red veins, large orange splashes present covering about a third of length of all four wings. Pterostigmas bright reddish brown with orange outer margins, paler on underside, short (2 mm).
- Abdomen bright orange red, with fine, black dashes on upper surface of s 8. Large black mark on s 9 and narrow black band on s 10. S 10 very narrow. When young short yellow stripes visible on dorsal and lateral abdomen when young.
- Very inconspicuous, yellowish to greenish brown
- Thorax faint dark brown stripes with light brownish white mark in center.
- Like male, has prominent peaks on frons, and especially vertex.
- Hindwing with faint, spotty basal, amber patch.
- Broad abdomen with black stripes and yellow markings
Compared with other species:
- Colouring very diagnostic with the large orange wing splashes distinguish it from other Trithemis species.
- This is an easily recognizable species due to the large orange splashes in both front and hind wings. These splashes ends about halfway from the thorax to the nodus (about one third lenght of wing)
- Similar to Brachythemis lacustris, Red Groundling, that can occur in the same area.
- The two are separated on abdominal shape, which has a bulbous base in B. lacustris but more slender in T. kirbyi.
- The pterostigmas of B. lacustris, are bi-coloured light on the inside and dark on the outside , whereas they are all brownish in T. kirbyi.
- The orange splashes in B. lacustris are more evenly spread , with no clear spaces as in T. kirbyi. The orange patch on the hind wing of T.Kirbyi does not reach the nodus but on B. lacustris it does reach the nodus.
- Tip of abdomen in B. lacustris does not have the small black dashes as does T. kirbyi.
- B. lacustris has 7.5 to 8.5 Ax veins but T. kirbyi has more the 8.5 Ax veins.
- Females can be mistaken for several Trithemis species as well as female B. lacustris
- Female of the Nomad Sympetrum fonscolombii very similar to T. Kirbyi
Distribution and habitat:
Common in South Africa.
Frequents standing and often temporary waters, rivers, streams and large lakes in open landscapes, but sometimes in
open areas in forest. Often with bare banks, rocks and a hard (rocky) and/or soft (muddy) bottom, pools in stream beds.
From 0 to 2600 m above sea level, but mostly below 1700. Often seen at man made water structures.
- Hunts from exposed rocks and solid structures near water.
- Often lowers body to gather the heat of the structure it is sitting on.
- When water levels drop and when conditions are very hot, male may perch on twigs over drying-out pools.
- Female rarely seen (look for them on warm flat structures near the water), but darts over a river pool to cast its eggs, and rapidly escorted by male.