Little Skimmer, Orthetrum abbotti, Kleinskepper.

 Ezemvelo Jan 2016

100 529  Male Nylsvlei LP RSA Nov 2015r 8

100 530  Female Ezemvelo GP RSA Jan 2016r 3

Short Description:

Little Skimmer, Orthetrum abbotti, Kleinskepper is small to medium-sized, all pale blue with slightly smoky wings and long, light-brown pterostigmas. Smallest sized Orthetrum specie in Southern African region. The body length is <40mm. 

Family Libellulidae Leach, 1815 
More Images:

102 501 Waterberge male x Mch 2016 rImage Gallery

100 617  Male1 Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016r 2Male
Young

Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019Male Maturing

Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male Close up Vaalwater LP RSA Dec 2017Male

Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019Female
Mature

Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016Female

 

 

 

 

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Key identification features:

Male:

  • Length 33 - 35 - 38 mm,  wingspan 52 - 56 - 60 mm,  Pterostigmas 3.5 - 4 mm
  • Male all grey when mature100 2790  Male Thipese LP RSA Dec 2018r 2
  • Eyes are light bluish turquoise below and dark greyish blue above. Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male Face  Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019  100 2865 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 18
  • Face narrow, mostly pale grey. Labium and labrum cream.Male1 Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016r Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male Face Anteclypeus, postclypeus and frons light grey, each edged in black. In the frons a spectacled shaped mark is visible.Head dimpled shiny black with small peaks above  Male1 Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016r Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male Face
  • Thorax of the male is unmarked. 100 531  Male1 Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016r 3 Light creamy yellow with, light green and brown on dorsal thorax becoming pruinose grey, starting at the dorsal thorax 100 2862 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 13 100 2861 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 6becoming a pale greyish blue pruinosity when old 100 2861 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 6. Whew young small parts of the thorax may not pruinose leading to stripy  100 531  Male1 Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016r 3 mottled contrast between the yellowish green ground colour and the blue pruinosity. The humeral suture (thin black curvy line at the shoulder delineating the dorsal thorax and lateral thorax segments 100 531 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male1 Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016r 3) distinctively black and remains visible till the thorax is pruinose with age
  • Wings slightly smoky with darker smoky patches reaching halfway along wing when young. Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019 Costa and antenodal crossveins (Ax) are yellowish. 1 row in radial planate, sum of cell-doublings 0-10 [0-14}. Pterostigmas long and somewhat swollen , usually 12.5% ( 3.5 - 4 mm) of hind wing length or more giving the impression of very long Pt relative to the wing
  • Abdomen is usually shorter than hind wing. 100 2870 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 29 When young at least s 4-7 with pale longitudinal streaks, at most s 9-10 all dark, although marking on s 8 can be tiny, becoming all pale, greyish blue pruinescent when old.Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019 Abdomen dorsal carina and lateral carina black. 100 2869 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 25The immature male abdomen has greenish yellow and brown side. Appendages are very distinctive and dark with cerci always black. Epiproct black on side yellowish inside sharply curved and shorter then cerci 100 2870 Male maturing Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 29
  • Secondary genitalia with a long posterior hamule. Space between hook and lobe of hamule usually narrow or closed

Female:Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019

  • Face all greenish cream, unmarked except for two blackish markings on upper surface of frons next to eyes. 100 2850 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 15 100 2851  Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 16  Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019
  • Head dark brown above with low peaks. Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019  100 2851 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 16
  • Thorax greenish cream, virtually unmarked except for darkening of sutures. Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019 Dorsal surface covered with minute blackish spines giving a fine spotted appearance. 100 2849  Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 13
  • Wings slightly smoky with darker smoky patches reaching halfway along wing. Costa yellow.Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019
  • Abdomen short (less than wing length), 100 2856 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 30 uniformly swollen with no taper. 100 2854 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 25  Light yellowish green and brown with dark brown lateral markings starting on segment 4, becoming wider and joining on s 8. S 9 all dark brown. S 10 yellowish behind with two fine black dots.100 2855 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 28 100 2854 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 25 Fine blackish line runs along top of abdomen from s 3 to 8 with paired dark markings at ends of each of s 3 to 7.100 2854 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 25  A black line starting mid dorsal s 7 broadening to the hind margin of s 9. has the form of a slender arrowhead with broadest at hind margin of s 9 Small yellow marks on dorsal s 10 Appendages very small.100 2855 Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Female Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2019r 28
Compared with other species:
  • Face has ‘spectacles’  but not as developed as in the Spectacled Skimmer (O. icteromelas)   .Orthetrum icteromelas Spectacled Skimmer Male Close up Hertzogbergr MP RSA Nov 2017
  • One of three all pale skimmers (the other two being O. hintzi   100 2103 Orthetrum hintzi Dark shouldered Skimmer Male Close up Ezemvelo Dec 2016r 2   and O. machadoi   100 2309 Orthetrum machadoi Highland Skimmer Male Close up Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2018r 1).
  • O. abbotti has a distinctly light grey and lightly spectacled face. 
Distribution and habitat:

Orthetrum abbotti Little Skimmer Distribution Map June 2020 MapLittle Skimmer, Orthetrum abbotti, Kleinskepper North and eastern parts of South Africa with few record in the central parts. Localised in the Western and Eastern Cape, 
Generally found in more open habitats with still water swampy like pools, dams and still parts of streams
and rivers with an abundance of short grasses, reeds, sedge and submerged aquatic vegetation. 
From 0 to 2200 m above sea level, but mostly below 1900.

Behaviour:
  • Weak flight, frequently returning to same grass or reed perch.
Further reading:

Websites:
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 667780
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

 
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