Genus Tramea Hagen, 1861
saddlebag gliders


  • scientific: Trapezostigma Hagen, 1848

Type species: Libellula carolina Linnaeus, 1758


Known in the New World as saddlebags for their wing markings, this genus is nearly cosmopolitan with about

30 species, but only two occur in Africa. They disperse well, often swarming together with Pantala flavescens, likewise following rains and breeding in seasonal pools and marshes. Like P. flavescens they tend to glide and hover, resting pendulantly in sheltered places. However, Tramea also often perch in the ‘pennant’ position at the end of high or exposed stakes, with wings raised and abdomen either also slightly up or pressed down. Both species are large (hindwing 38-43 mm) brown to red dragonflies, potentially found anywhere in Africa (and parts of Asia), although T. limbata is more common in coastal areas. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Male of genus is similar to Pantala by (a) hindlobe of prothorax small, roughly semicircular and widest at base (dorsal view), apex often pressed downwards (lateral view), its border with short hairs and at most a few longer hairs; (b) Pt in Fw much larger than in Hw; (c) Fw triangle points approximately to radial fork in Hw; (d) subtriangle not clearly closed proximally, appearing to include 4-7 cells, rarely only 3-7; (e) Fw anal field at arculus of 3 cell-rows; (f) S4 with transverse ridge of similar strength as that on S3 and lateral carina S4. However, differs by (1) 2 rows in Fw medial planate; (2) R3 straight rather than arched, only curved towards posterior border at end; (3) Hw base with dark marking, rather than yellowish wash; (4) 1 rather than 2 Cux in Hw; (5) hamule much longer than anterior lamina and genital lobe; (6) S5 without transverse ridge like that on S4; (7) cerci over 2x as long as epiproct. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

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 Clausnitzer, V. (2014). The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa: handbook for all Odonata from Sudan to Zimbabwe. Studies in Afrotropical Zoology, 298, 1-264.
  • Ris, F. (1921). The Odonata or Dragonflies of South Africa. Annals South African Museum, XVIII, 245-452. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies (Odonata) of Central Africa. Occasional Papers Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 14, 1-97. [PDF file]
  • Schouteden, H. (1934). Annales Musee Congo belge Zoologie 3 Section 2, 3, 1-84. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2017-03-24].