Genus Sympecma Selys, 1840

Type species: Agrion phallatum Charpentier, 1825 [= fusca]


For an introduction to this genus, please refer to: Dijkstra, K.-D.B. & R. Lewington, 2006. Field guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe. British Wildlife Publishing. 1-320.


Body brownish with dark bronze dorsal markings, characteristically torpedo-shaped on the upperside of S3-6. The pale brown Pt is an elongate rectangle, standing in front of two cells. In the Fw it is distinctly nearer to the wing apex than in the Hw; this feature is easily seen when the wings are closed in rest and the Fw and Hw Pt hardly overlap. Venation (with many pentagonal rather than rectangular cells), long Pt and male appendages recall Lestes but, although the metallic markings are greenish in teneral Sympecma, there is never the bright green coloration of Lestes. In Sympecma the wings are narrower and more pointed; moreover Lestes typically rests with wings half spread and if its wings are closed Fw and Hw Pt broadly overlap. The hind rim of the pronotum in Lestes is simply rounded, but in Sympecma it is trilobed: two incisions produce a pronounced central lobe and two lateral lobes. The Sympecma ovipositor is weak and short, its tip extending only halfway S10; the female appendages are notably large and pale. Brown females of Enallagma have a similar abdominal pattern, but have small lozenge-shaped Pt, short dark appendages, a spine at the ovipositor base and differently configured and blacker markings on head and thorax, including postocular spots. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Lewington 2006]

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.


  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B., and Lewington, R. (2006). Field guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe. British Wildlife Publishing, 1-320.

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2017-03-26].