Genus Copera Kirby, 1890
tropical featherlegs


  • scientific: formerly placed in genus Platycnemis Burmeister, 1839

Type species: Platycnemis marginipes Rambur, 1842


Although traditionally placed in the predominantly Palaearctic genus Platycnemis, the five tropical continental African species belong in the otherwise Oriental genus Copera. Males are usually easily recognised as the only small (hindwing 14-21 mm) and slender damselflies with expanded, brightly coloured tibiae. While C. sikassoensis occurs at rather open streams and rivers, the other species favour shady forest pools and swamps, sometimes muddy springs and streams. Tenerals of all species are like all-white ghosts, gradually becoming marked with black as they age. Colour characters refer to mature specimens. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Male of genus is similar to Proplatycnemis by (a) head very wide, about 3x as broad as deep; (b) wings clear; (c) quadrilaterals rectangular, in Fw anterior border about 3x as long as distal border; 2 cells between quadrilateral and subnode [2-3]; (d) Cux stands distal from origin of anal vein by about its own length; (e) anal vein terminates distal to node; (f) IR3 originates closer to subnode than R4; (g) paraprocts slender, much longer than high. However, differs by (1) ranging from Uganda to W Africa; (2) legs yellow or orange; (3) dilations of mid and hind tibiae at most 2x as wide as shaft; (4) cerci at least 2/3 length of paraprocts. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014; this diagnosis not yet verified by author]

Copera rufipes (Selys, 1886). © Nicolas Meziere

Copera rufipes (Selys, 1886). Male & female © Nicolas Meziere

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.

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-07-25].