Dragonfly Guide

Platycnemis acutipennis

Selys, 1841

Orange white-legged damselfly


The shape of the head and the pattern on the abdomen are those typical of the genus Platychnemis. The less expanded tibiae and the orange-red colour distinguish this species from the cogeners. In P. pennipes and P. latipes only some females have a reddish hue on the body and in both species the tibiae are decidedly more expanded. Eyes are greyish in females and light blue in males. Both sexes has double antehumeral stripes on the thorax.

The upper tip of male's upper appendages is longer than the lower tip. Female hind margin of the pronotum has a pair of distinct lateral teeth.

Immature individuals are whitish, more closely recalling other cogeners.

The mature colour is less intense than that of Ceriagrion tenellum or Pyrrhosoma nymphula, which are differently marked. Moreover P. acutipennis has bluish eyes, like other mature Platycnemis males. The combination of light blue eyes and orange body in the male is unique in Europe.


Platychnemis acutipennis deposit eggs in fresh, floating aquatic plants, as well as roots or driftwood.


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Distribution map. Data from gbif.org

Platycnemis acutipennis is endemic to south-western Europe. It is common and widespread in the south-western parts of the Iberian Peninsula and of France, with more scattered occurrences in the other parts of Spain and central and south-eastern parts of France. It seems to be less common than P. latipes in Spain.


Platychnemis acutipennis occurs in a wide range of habitats and is found at standing, slow-flowing and swift waters, although its preferred habitat in most of its range is medium sized rivers. It is restricted to lowlands and hilly areas, being widespread and often common below 500 m, decreasing rapidly with increased elevation although reaching locally 1 150 m in the Mediterranean.


  • Atlas of the European Dragonflies and Damselflies, Jean-Pierre Boudot(Editor), Vincent J Kalkman(Editor), Fons Peels(Illustrator)

  • Dragonflies and Damselflies of Europe: A scientific approach to the identification of European Odonata without capture, Galliani, C.; Scherini, R.; Piglia, A.

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