Violet Dropwing, Trithemis annulata, Purpervalvlerkie

Male in the sandy grass

Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing
Short description:

Violet Dropwing, Trithemis annulata, Purpervalvlerkie is small to medium sized, distinctly stout and violet red.

Also known as Violet-marked Darter, Purple-blushed Darter or Plum-coloured Dropwing

Family Libellulidae    (Leach, 1815)

More  images: 

100 903 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Malelane Sept 2016r 2Image

100 2025 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Male Close UP RNR GP RSA Mch 2018r 1

Violet Dropwing

100 2117 Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing Female Close up Cape Vidal KZN Apr 2016r 25Violet Dropwing






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Key identification features:


  • Labrum is deep red with oval dark brown patch on the lower margin. Anteclypeus, postclypeus and front of frons deep red with the top of frons and top of head metallic deep reddish purple. 
  • Eyes are dark red with two whitish spots on hind margin. 
  • Thorax is violet red (magenta), pruinescent, with dark stripes showing through on shoulder and at sides. 
  • Wings have distinctive red veins.
  • Hindwings have dark orange basal patches.
  • Pterostigmas orange brown with blackish front margins, 3 mm long.
  • Abdomen is fairly stout, pinkish violet, darkening with age to deep dark violet, with small fine deep purple dashes along the top of each segment. Segments 8 to 10 are red, with black dashes.


  • Similar in size, all dark brown, yellow and white. The
  • Pterostigmas and wing patches are similar than males but wings have orange rather than red veins.
  • Two thin lines on the side of the abdomen with a pattern of markings on the dorsal abdomen ending with broad black patches on 8-9 that is similar to male.
  • Mostly standing and often temporary waters, but also rivers, streams and possibly large lakes and flowing channels in marshes, in open landscapes, but sometimes in open areas in forest. Usually with emergent vegetation and often a soft muddy like bottom. 
  • From 0 to 2000 m above sea level, but mostly below 1500.
  • Perches conspicuously on a twig or reed over the water.
  • Hunts by flying rapidly over reeds and water returning to perch very often at the same perch
  • On hot days and evenings, it moves away from the water and perches on the ends of twigs of high trees
Compared with other species:
  • Male is similar to T. pluvialis. (Russet Dropwing)
  • Near strong flowing rivers in KZN (Ndumo and the northern interior), eastern Swaziland and the Kruger Park, T. annulata often cohabitate with the rare Elegant Dropwing, T. werneri.
  • Females and males of T. werneri, Elegant Dropwing, easily confused with T. annulata, Violet Dropwing 
  • T. werneri has well defined broad bands on both sides if abdominal segments with T. annulata thin light rings almost not visible.
  • Females of T. annulata, T. arteriosa, Red-veined Dropwing, T. pluvialis and T. werneri have distinct thorax markings. Dark zig-zag patterns but all are distinctly different. 
  • Lateral thorax markings of T. annulata are similar to that of T. kirbyi, Orange-winged Dropwing, but less distinct.
Distribution Map May 2020








South Africa

  • Locally Common in Eastern Cape, through KZN and the northern provinces. 


  • Algeria; Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Côte d'Ivoire; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Chad; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinee-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Libya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Republic of South Africa; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Togo; Tunisia; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe;
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