Black Pennant
(Selysiothemis nigra)

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The Black Pennant wasn't known to occur here in Tuscany until we found and photographed it in July 2005. It's a very small dragonfly with a disproportionately large head. Selysiothemis nigra is a rare species in Europe with a very patchy distribution in Greece, the Balkans, Italy and Iberia. Mature males are uniformly black in colour, although they do develop a whitish pruinescence on their thorax and abdomen. [More recently we have noticed mature males with a reddish-brown base colour, especially on the side of the thorax.] Immature males and females have a sandy-brown thorax and abdomen with extensive black markings. The species' most distinguishing features are the size of the wings (they're very large and broad for such a small dragonfly) and the shape of the pterostigma, which resembles an equals sign. Copulation takes place in flight over the water and - unlike in Crocothemis and in Trithemis species - can be a fairly long drawn-out affair. Afterwards the couple keeps flying in tandem, at a steady pace and seldom stationary, while the female dips her abdomen in the water every few seconds to release her eggs.

Line DrawingLineDrawing: the female's wings in dorsal view.

For an overview of the Black Pennant's distribution in Europe, hover your mouse pointer over the map symbol European distribution. With the editors' permission we have based this map on data to be published in Kalkman, V. J. & J.-P. Boudot (eds.), Atlas of the Dragonflies of Europe (in prep.).

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Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr272. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr273. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - immature male. PhotoID: Dr280. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr281. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr286.
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Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr287. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr289. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr290. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr300. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - immature male. PhotoID: Dr301.
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Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr302. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr303. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr322. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr323. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr324.
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Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr325. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr326. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - male. PhotoID: Dr327. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - tandem. PhotoID: Dr328. Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) - female. PhotoID: Dr432.