Banded Skimmer, Orthetrum brachiale, Gebande Skepper.

100 2055 Orthetrum brachiale Banded Skimmer Male Ndumu KZN RSA Mch 2017r 8
100 647  Kasane Apr 2014 r 6
100 651 Orthetrum brachiale Banded Skimmer Female Kasane Apr 2014 r 1
Short description:

Banded Skimmer, Orthetrum brachiale, Gebande Skepper. is medium sized with a dark grey thorax with slight yellowish markings on lower abdomen. Males best identified by inspection of secondary genitalia.

Family Libellulidae Leach, 1815
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Key identification features:


  • Abdomen 30 -33mm, hind wing span 32 - 35mm, Pterostigma 4 - 4.5mm
  • Face mostly pale to dark grey above, brown below (diagnostic) Top of head dark brown, dimpled.
  • Eyes greenish blue with dark spots.
  • Thorax greyish brown with strong, dark brown stripes on shoulders and sides, overall becoming darker brown and then pruinescent light blue with age, giving a pale blue stripe; no cream stripes on sides. Area on top of the thorax between wing bases remains pale greenish blue as sides darken.
  • Wings clear, becoming smoky with age. Costas and subcostal cream, base of hind wing dark brown.
  • Pterostigmas dark brown with lighter centers
  • Abdomen, when young, heavily marked with dark rings against light background, and with a long, thin, dark, dorsal stripe. With age these dark markings become obscured with blue pruinescence. Appendages black with white tip
  • Old males are better identified by inspection of the secondary genitalia.


  • Light brown with striking fine, dark brown lines on shoulders and sides, abdomen with blackish rings and side patches, and a fine dark line runs along the top of the abdomen.
  • Females and young males have well marked bands on the abdomen, with the upper part of the band elongated to make a clear black band around the bottom part of the segment, which is yellow on top in the front and black underneath with the rear part of the segment yellow on top and yellow band underneath.
  • Subcostal Ax veins always pale.
  • Labrum usually all pale.
  • Claspers are dark withe white tips
  • Open standing and often temporary waters in open landscapes, but sometimes also in open areas in forest or shaded by gallery forest. Often with emergent vegetation, coarse detritus and a sandy and/or soft (like muddy) bottom.
  • From 0 to 2100 m above sea level, but mostly below 1500.
  • Perches on long grass at the margins
Compared with other species:
  • Easily misidentified with Bold Skimmer, O. stemmale. O. brachiale has shorter broader abdomen than O. stemmale.
  • O. brachiale face is mostly pale to dark grey above, brown below (diagnostic). Top of head dark brown, dimpled.
  • Female claspers are dark compared with the yellowish claspers of O. stemmale.
Orthetrum brachiale Banded Skimmer Distribution Map June 2020 Map








South Africa:

  • Rare savanna species in South Africa that ranges across the warm sub-tropical eastern and northern parts of Limpopo Mpumalanga and KZN provinces 


  • Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Côte d'Ivoire; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo-Brazzaville; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinee-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Republic of Guinea; Republic of South Africa; Rwanda; São Tomé & Príncipe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Further reading:

Websites of note

Credit for description to Michael J Samways.