Dragonfly Guide

Brachythemis

Brauer, 1868

Brachythemis is a genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. They are commonly known as groundlings.

Identification

Small, thickset libellulids. Their abdomen is without waist or club. Females and young males are beige, with fine, intricate and often smudgy dark markings. Often with diagnostic dark transverse bars on top of the eyes. The wings are clear or marked with dark patches. The pterostigmas are (largely) cream-coloured. Mature males become wholly blackish, with large dark wing patches. In contrast, the pterostigmas remain pale. The combination of three rows of cells immediately distal to the triangle and the absence of cross-veins in the triangles (and often subtriangles) excludes all other libellulidgenera, while only Acisoma and Pantala share a transverse ridge near the base of S4 (similar to that on S3). The female's appendages are notably long and claw-like.

Separation from other genera

Mature males can be confused only with other libellulids with patterned wings, such as Sympetrum pedemontanum or Rhyothemis semihyalina, although these differ widely in shape, behaviour, range and coloration. Females and young males (with unmarked wings) may resemble Sympetrum, Orthetrum and Trithemis, but are separated by their (largely) whitish pterostigmas. Only very recently-emerged individuals of the other genera still have white pterostigmas.

Separation of the species

Five species inhabit the warm parts of the Old World; one extends into Europe from Africa, another from Asia. The two may meet in Turkey, where they are easily separated by pterostigma colour in both sexes, and wing pattern in males.

Distribution

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Distribution map. Data from gbif.org

Sources

  • Field guide to the dragonflies of Britain and Europe, Klaas-Douwe B Dijkstra.