Platycypha caligata (Selys, 1853)
Dancing Jewel

Type locality: Durban, South Africa


Male is similar to P. angolensis and P. lacustris by (a) humeral and metapleural stripes narrow, about as wide as hind femur is thick, black of mesepimeron usually clearly dissected by pale ‘posthumeral’ stripe; (b) dorsum of S2-10 blue; (c) paraprocts less than half as long as cerci (lateral view). However, differs by (1) being widespread on streams and rivers, and sometimes at lakes; (2) sides of S1-3 and thorax reddish with maturity; (3) at most S2-5 with apical black bars. See P. caligata f. lacus for difference of this potentially distinct species at Lake Malawi. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

Habitat description

Mostly rivers, but also streams and large lakes, in open landscapes or sometimes shaded by gallery forest. Usually with dead trunks or branches, often emergent vegetation and a soft (like muddy) bottom, and probably submerged roots and/or coarse detritus. From 0 to 2000 m above sea level, but mostly below 1800.


confirmed: Angola; Botswana; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ethiopia; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Republic of South Africa; Rwanda; South Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe; NOT confirmed: Lesotho; Somalia

Male © Hans-Joachim Clausnitzer

Abdomen (dorsal view)

Thorax (lateral view)

Map citation: Clausnitzer, V., K.-D.B. Dijkstra, R. Koch, J.-P. Boudot, W.R.T. Darwall, J. Kipping, B. Samraoui, M.J. Samways, J.P. Simaika & F. Suhling, 2012. Focus on African Freshwaters: hotspots of dragonfly diversity and conservation concern. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 129-134.

Barcode specimen(s):

Male; Tanzania, Tanga Region, East Usambara Mts © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Tanzania, Tanga Region, East Usambara Mts © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Female; Tanzania, Tanga Region, East Usambara Mts © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Democratic Republic of Congo, Katanga, © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Adult, male; Zimbabwe, Manicaland, below Vumba Mts, Essex Valley © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.


  • de Sélys-Longchamps, E. (1853). Synopsis des Caloptérygines. Bruxelles. Bulletins de l'Academie Royale des Sciences Belgique, 20, 1-73.
  • Consiglio, C. (1978). Odonata collected in ethopia by the expeditions of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 375, 27-51. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies (Odonata) of Central Africa. Occasional Papers Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 14, 1-97. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1966). Check-list of dragonflies (Odonata) from Malawi, with description of a new Teinobasis Kirby. Arnoldia, 2, 1-24. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1967). Odonata Zygoptera. Exploration Hydrobiologique Bassin Lac Bangweolo Luapula, 14, 1-43. [PDF file]
  • Schouteden, H. (1934). Annales Musee Congo belge Zoologie 3 Section 2, 3, 1-84. [PDF file]
  • Ris, F. (1921). The Odonata or Dragonflies of South Africa. Annals South African Museum, XVIII, 245-452. [PDF file]
  • Sjöstedt, Y. (1909). Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der schwedischen zoologischen Expedition nach dem Kilimandjaro, dem Meru und den umgebenden Massaisteppen Deutsch-Ostafrikas 1905-1906 unter Leitung von Prof. Dr. Yngve Sjöstedt. 14. Pseudoneuroptera. Odonata, 14, 1-52.

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-07-21].