Dark-winged groundling (Brachythemis fuscopalliata)

Female dark-winged groundling
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Dark-winged groundling fact file

Dark-winged groundling description

GenusBrachythemis (1)

Like other members of the Libellulidae family, the dark-winged groundling has a relatively short, broad abdomen, with its whole body markedly shorter than its wingspan (2) (3). The abdomen and thorax of the male is dark brown, and the inner half of its wings show a conspicuous dark brown pigmentation. Females can easily be distinguished from males by their pale brown to olive colouration and lack of wing markings.

Length: 31 - 39 mm (2)
Length of abdomen: 19 - 25 mm (2)
Hindwing: 25 - 30 mm (2)

Dark-winged groundling biology

Virtually nothing has been recorded of this species’ social, reproductive or feeding behaviour, but certain details can be inferred from what is known about damselflies and dragonflies (Odonata) generally. Odonata species start their life as aquatic larvae, passing through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’ and undergoing several moults as they grow. Before the final moult (emergence), metamorphosis occurs in which the larvae transform into the adult form. Adults complete their metamorphosis after emergence and undergo a pre-reproductive phase known as the maturation period, when individuals normally develop their full adult colour (4). The adult flight period for this particular species in Turkey is from early May to late September, during which time they must mate (2), but the species is known to appear in April and sometimes in January in Iraq (5).

Mature males of the dark-winged groundling often congregate on waterside vegetation at favourable breeding sites, and do not seem to defend a territory. Females begin to lay eggs immediately after copulation, by hovering over reed and aquatic plants and continually touching them with the tip of the abdomen. The male hovers over the female during oviposition, guarding her from other males (6).

Odonata feed on flying insects and are often generalised, opportunistic feeders, sometimes congregating around abundant prey sources such as swarms of other insect (4).


Dark-winged groundling range

Found from Iran to the centre-east and south coast of Turkey, with intermediate populations in Iraq, Israel and Syria (1).


Dark-winged groundling habitat

Recorded from pools, swamps, gravel pits, barrage lakes and slow-flowing streams (1).


Dark-winged groundling status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Dark-winged groundling threats

The dark-winged groundling is threatened by habitat loss and pollution, particularly from pesticides, and poor water management in the Middle East, placing the future of the species in jeopardy. Several formerly flourishing populations have plummeted to the brink of extinction in recent decades due to agricultural pollution in Turkey, and the destruction of swamps during the course of war in Iraq. The dam area of the Euphrates River in South Turkey may have also destroyed populations, and continues to threaten those that survive with flooding (1).


Dark-winged groundling conservation

There are currently no conservation measures targeting this species, but there is an urgent need to control levels of pollution and preserve natural wet areas (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


Authenticated (18/12/06) by Jean-Pierre Boudot, CNRS, Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I, France.



Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
Egg-laying in insects.


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
  2. Dijkstra, K.D.B. and Lewington, R. (2006) Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe. British Wildlife Publishing, Gillingham.
  3. Brisbane Insects and Spiders (September, 2007)
  4. O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Dumont, H.J. (1972) Occurence of Brachythemis fuscopalliata (Sélys, 1887) in the east Mediterranean area (Anisoptera: Libellulidae). Odonatologica, 1(4): 241 - 244.
  6. Boudot, J.P. (2008) Pers. comm.

Image credit

Female dark-winged groundling  
Female dark-winged groundling

© Jean-Pierre Boudot

Jean-Pierre Boudot
Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I
Faculté des Sciences
Boulevard des Aiguillettes
BP 239
Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy Cedex


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