Genus Oxythemis Ris, 1910

Type species: Oxythemis phoenicosceles Ris, 1910


Monotypic genus related to the red-tailed Nesciothemis species, found from Uganda to western Africa. O. phoenicosceles males are sleek and fairly small (hindwing 24-27 mm) and black with largely yellow-brown femora, thorax and abdominal segments 1-3 when teneral. Thorax and abdomen base become grey pruinose, the femora bright red, making it instantly recognisable. Males typically perch on leaves with their legs spread, showing off their bright colour. Tall, well-sunned vegetation adjacent to standing or slow-moving water, such as at forested oxbows or flooded bushes, is preferred. Males are wary, moving up a few leaves when disturbed. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Male of genus is similar to Aethiothemis by (a) size, Hw 23-35 mm; (b) frons and vertex of different colour (e.g. brown or red), more uniform (e.g. less contrasting yellowish dorsally and brown ventrally), or dorsum darkest; (c) occipital triangle smaller with rather concave borders, eyes touching over distance of at least half its length; (d) Pt never black-and-white and wings at most with dark tips or bases or with overall yellowish infusion; (e) Fw supratriangles without cross-veins; Fw triangle of 2-3 cells, subtriangle of 3-6 cells; (f) Fw discoidal field of 3-4 rows at base; (g) all wings with 0 cell-doublings in radial planate [0-2]. However, differs by (1) mid and hind femora largely bright red with maturity; (2) Abd slender, S4 at least 3x as long as wide, and subtriangle of 3 cells. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014; this diagnosis not yet verified by author]

Oxythemis phoenicosceles Ris, 1910. Male © KD Dijkstra

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.
  • Fraser, F.C. (1955). Odonata. Exploration Parc National Upemba. Mission G F de Witte, 38, 1-34. [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. [2024-07-20].