Orthetrum chrysostigma

Common Name:
Epaulet Skimmer
O. chrysostigma
Species Description
Orthetrum is a genus of dragonflies in the Libellulidae family. It is a very large genus, spread across the Old World.

Orthetrum chrysostigma (Burmeister, 1839), the Epaulet Skimmer, is widespread in continental Africa except dense forest, southern Europe, middle East, and southern Asia.  It is one of a number of dragonfly species where the mature male is predominantly blue and the female/immature male is predominantly a tan/brown colour. However it is unique amongst the Skimmers occurring on the Iberian peninsula in having a single white stripe or "epaulet" outlined in black on each side of the thorax. These "epaulets" are clearly visible when the insect is viewed from the side, running from just above the middle leg to just below the base of the forewing, and are present in both sexes regardless of their maturity, (with the possible exception of really old males). The species has a length around 39 to 46 mm, hind wing length around 27 to 32 mm.

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, shrub-dominated wetlands, swamps, freshwater lakes, intermittent freshwater lakes, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marshes, and freshwater springs. The adults prey on various fliying insects, with the bodies of the males being vivid blue and those of the females a bright green color.

Orthetrum chrysostigma is superficially similar to the Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens), the Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum) and the Yellow-veined Skimmer (Orthetrum nitidinerve), however unlike those species the male Epaulet Skimmer has a noticeably waisted abdomen. The Keeled Skimmer (O. coerulescens) has pale stripes on the upper surface of the thorax, but when viewed from the side they appear to run along the top edge of the thorax, from the pronotum to the forewing. There is often a very small amber patch at the base of the hind wing which may serve to help separate the Epaulet Skimmer from the similar Southern Skimmer (O. brunneum) and the Yellow-veined Skimmer (O. nitidinerve).

Orthetrum chrysostigma is found in Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and possibly Burundi as well as Canary Islands. It is assessed as Least Concern by IUCN Red List in view of its wide distribution, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. 




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