Nesciothemis farinosa

Common Name:
Black-tailed Skimmer, Common Blacktail
N. farinosa
Orthetrum farinosum (Forster, 1898)
Orthetrum pollinosum (Karsch, 1899)
Species Description
Nesciothemis farinosa (Forster, 1898) is a species of dragonfly in family Libellulidae. It is found in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and possibly Burundi. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, dry savanna, moist savanna, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, rivers, intermittent rivers, swamps, freshwater lakes, intermittent freshwater lakes, freshwater marshes, and intermittent freshwater marshes.

Common names for this species include Black-tailed Skimmer (not to be confused with the European and Asian species of the same name, Orthetrum cancellatum), Black-tailed Dancer, Black-tailed False-skimmer and Common Blacktail.

Nesciothemis farinosa is a fairly large and robust dragonfly. The body length is around 40-46 mm, hindwing length around 30-35 mm. The male, as the common name suggests, has a distinctly black tail. Its head is also black, while the eyes are brown-black above and lighter below. The thorax is powdery blue-grey, while the abdomen is blue-grey for the first five segments, but becomes black with pale yellow markings on the upper side of the remaining segments. These markings become darker, sometimes almost black, as the dragonfly ages. The abdomen of this species is straight and pointed. The wings of the male are mostly clear, becoming opaque and smoky-grey as the individual becomes older.

The female is very different to the male in appearance, with a wholly light brown face, a brown labrum that is margined with yellow, and a brown thorax, which is lighter on the sides and darker above. There is a distinct pale brown or cream line, separating the upper and lower sides of the thorax, and the abdomen is yellow-brown with a darker line running along the length of both sides. The young female has clear wings with brown tips, which disappear and begin to turn smoky-grey as the individual ages The pterostigma, a thickened cell found on the outer edge of the wing, is deep yellow-brown in the male and female.

The black-tailed skimmer is found in forest, bush, savanna and woodland. In South Africa, it can be found up to elevations of 1,200 metres, and between 800 and 1,890 metres in Malawi. Within these areas, its preferred habitat includes freshwater pools, pans, marshes and quiet reaches of rivers where it can perch on reeds or tall grass. The larvae of the black-tailed skimmer can be found in springs and other small water bodies with dense reed vegetation 

The most widespread species in the genus Nesciothemis, the black-tailed skimmer is found in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, from Egypt in the north, south throughout Africa to South Africa, and from Angola in the west to Somalia in the east. Therefore it is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List





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