Genus Pantala Hagen, 1861
rainpool gliders

Type species: Libellula flavescens Fabricius, 1798


Known also as the Globe Skimmer or simply Pantala, P. flavescens is the most numerous and widespread odonate on Earth, being absent only from Antarctica and most of Europe. A second Pantala species occurs in America only. Adapted to seasonal conditions, P. flavescens can complete its life cycle in as little as one month. It migrates widely, often in swarms, following the temporary abundance of habitat provided by rains. Great numbers may be seen on the move in the dry season, swarming around trees at the onset of rains, and patrolling over puddles, as well as swimming pools and shiny car roofs. They perch less than most libellulids, doing so in a hanging posture, often in the shelter of grass or trees. There are indications for annual trans-oceanic migrations between Africa and India. The species is large (hindwing 35-42 mm) and ‘triangular’ with broad-based pointed hindwing, and a large head and tapering abdomen. Sand-coloured at emergence, males become orange and even red dorsally on abdomen. They often have darkened hindwing tips. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Male of genus is similar to Tramea 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) 1, rather than 2 cell-rows in Fw medial planate; (2) R3 arched backwards at mid-length rather than straight; (3) 2 rather than 1 Cux in Hw; (4) Hw base at most with yellow wash rather than with dark markings; (5) hamule about as long as anterior lamina and genital lobe; (6) S5 with transverse ridge, similar to that on S4; (7) cerci under 2x as long as epiproct. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798). Male © Jens Kipping

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.


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  • 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]
  • Barnard, K.H. (1937). Notes on dragon-flies (Odonata) of the S. W. Cape with descriptions of the nymphs and of new species. Annals South African Museum, 32, 169-260. [PDF file]
  • 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].