Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra)
[ Show Info• Scientific name: Selysiothemis nigra (Vander Linden, 1825)
• English name: Black Pennant
• German name: Teufelchen
• French name: Sélysiothémis noir
• Dutch name: Windvaantje
• Swedish name: N/A
• Norwegian name: N/A
• Finnish name: N/A
• Danish name: N/A
• Typical length: 30-38 mm
• Hindwing: 24-27 mm ] | [ Show MapBlack Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra)
Map data based on Kalkman, V. J. & J.-P. Boudot (eds.), Atlas of the Dragonflies of Europe (in prep.) ]
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.
LineDrawing: the female's wings in dorsal view.