Dragonfly Guide

Crocothemis

Brauer, 1868

Crocothemis is a genus of dragonflies in the Libellulidae family. Various species of this genus occur in southern Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Southwest Pacific. They are generally small to medium-sized dragonflies.

Identification

Mature males are completely bright scarlet, except for blue undersides of eyes. Both sexes are almost devoid of black markings, although abdomen often has a narrow dorsal black line. The unmarked pale legs are usually diagnostic. The pterostigma is large and pale, and the hindwing has a broad saffron base.

Separation from other genera

With the exception of some Turkish Sympetrum, all other libellulids have some black on the legs. In the field, Crocothemis males also appear brighter, broader and bolder than other red libellulids. Red Sympetrum species are a less pure red, smaller and more slender-bodied and have a less powerful flight, their eyes and thorax are often brown, and there are black markings on all body parts. Most likely to be confused with the bright and active S. fonscolombii. Red Trithemis are similarly gaudy but smaller. Brownish specimens may be taken for Orthetrum. That genus has some black on legs and, at most, some faint yellow at hindwing base.

Separation of the species

Our two species overlap only in a small area, but both may breed in the same water. Easy to separate at emergence. Mature individuals, however, are impossible to separate on the wing, requiring examination with a hand lens or microscope.

Behaviour

Male behaves conspicuously, keenly defending a territory with fast flights from a prominent perch. Male guards female during oviposition, rather than holding her in tandem in the manner of Sympetrum species.

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.