Nomad Sympetrum fonscolombii Swerwertjie
Nomad, Sympetrum fonscolombii. Swerwertjie is medium sized, reddish orange, with a brownish head and thorax.
Also called Red-veined Darter
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Key identification features:
- Bright red.
- Face, labrum, frons and the front of top of head reddish brown. The sides of postclypeus, frons and back of the head, is yellowish or greyish brown.
- Eyes are reddish brown above and blue below.
- Thorax reddish brown becoming greyer at sides with two indistinct but wide diagonal grey to creamy brown stripes, sometimes only one of these stripes visible.
- Abdomen usually orange red with two black dashes both in center and at sides of segments 8 and 9. The males become a deep red with maturity with red veins on the wings, particularly on the leading edges.
- Wing bases of the hind-wings are yellow. Pterostigma are pale with a border of black veins and the underside of the eye is blue/grey. Immature males are coloured as the females but have only a single line along each side of the abdomen.
- Legs of both sexes are mostly black with some yellow. Immature males are like females but often with more red.
- Yellowish brown becoming greyish brown with age.
- Thorax Indistinct but wide pale greyish diagonal line running across side Brown humeral stripe
- Abdomen with fine black line along side separates yellow brown above from the pale straw colour below.Usually mustard yellow with two black dashes both in centre and at sides of s 8 and 9.
Compared with other species:
- Not as deep of red as the common Scarlets ,(Broad- and Little- (Crocothemis)) or red Dropwings (Trithemis ) species. Distinctly, overall, slightly more orange but darken to a darkish red with age. Best recognised by a combination of orange-red abdomen with black marks at tip, brownish grey thorax with pale diagonal stripes (of which only one, running across middle of side of thorax may be visible and also dulling with age) and dull reddish brown face and eyes. The 'hairy collar' is easily seen in field.
- Male S. fonscolombii can be mistaken for Crocothemis erythraea as both are very red dragonflies with yellow bases to the wings, red veins and pale pterostigma. However C. erythraea has no black on the legs, a broader body and no black on the head but white on the rear margin of the eye.
- C. erythraea females do not oviposit in tandem.
Distribution and habitat:
Widespread throughout South Africa, even up to 2 700 m elevation. Its range extends to Europe,
Madagascar and Asia and it is a wandering and migratory species. Found in, and reproduces in, a wide range of habitats
(permanent and transient shallow and sunny standing waters, man-made barrage lakes, tanks and ponds, permanent and seasonal rivers and streams). The eggs and larvae develop rapidly and S. fonscolombii unlike many other dragonflies has more than one generation a year.
One of the first Dragonflies on the wing in spring
- Main flight period is early October to May and it is scarce during the winter months.
- Territorial species with the males often sitting on an exposed perch. After copulation the pair stays in tandem for egg laying and pairs can be seen over open water with the female dipping her abdomen into the water depositing eggs.
- The eggs and larvae develop rapidly has more than one generation a year.
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 668420
The IUCN Red List od Threatened Species Least concern
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online