The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Orange-winged Dropwing

Afrikaans name: Oranjevlerk-valvlerkie

A beautiful Orange-winged Dropwing

Orange-winged Dropwing

Photo © Adobe Stock

Trithemis kirbyi

The Orange-winged Dropwing is one of the most widespread dragonflies in South Africa. In fact, it is common throughout most of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It is, however, dependent on water so it can be found almost anywhere other than the most arid regions. They are normally seen during October to May.

Most records of this species in South Africa come from KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West, and Limpopo.

The male Orange-winged Dragonfly has a stunningly bright orange colour. The body and most of the wings are orange with a black tip to the wings. The female lacks the orange and is instead a yellowish-brown colouration which makes it difficult to identify from females of similar species. With an average length of 33 mm, they are quite small. The wingspan varies from about 50 to 60 mm.

Their favourite perch is an exposed rock alongside a river, dam or other water source. They are even attracted to concrete structures on farm dams and reservoirs. Ponds, lakes and marshes serve as breeding spots.

In other countries this dragonfly goes under other names such as Kirby’s Dropwing or Scarlet Rock Glider which I think is quite a cool name!

References and further reading

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 162

A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa - Author: Warwick and Michele Tarboton - Published: 2015 - Page: 186


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