Golden dancing-jewel (Platycypha auripes)

Golden dancing-jewel
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Golden dancing-jewel fact file

Golden dancing-jewel description

GenusPlatycypha (1)

The golden dancing-jewel is a stunning example of the aesthetic beauty for which dragonflies and damselflies have long been admired (2). Thoroughly deserving of its common name, this striking damselfly has a golden, vivid orange abdomen, a contrasting black and yellow thorax, black upper legs and conspicuous yellow lower legs.


Golden dancing-jewel biology

Virtually nothing is known of the golden dancing-jewel’s reproductive biology, life history patterns or feeding behaviour. Nevertheless, there are general biological characteristics of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) that are likely to apply. Odonata species start their life as aquatic larvae or nymphs, passing through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’, undergoing several moults as they grow. This larval period can last anything between three months and ten years, depending upon the species. Before the final moult (emergence), metamorphosis occurs in which the larvae transform into the adult form. After emergence, adults undergo a pre-reproductive phase known as the maturation period, and this is when individuals normally develop their full adult colour. Odonata usually feed on flying insects and are generalised, opportunistic feeders, often congregating around abundant prey sources such as swarms of termites or near beehives (2).

There is often fierce competition between males for access to reproductive females, and females typically begin to lay eggs in water immediately after copulation, often guarded by their mate. However, females of some species can store live sperm in their body for a number of days (2).


Golden dancing-jewel range

Restricted to the Usambara, Uluguru and Udzungwa Mountains (Eastern Arc Mountains) of Tanzania (1).


Golden dancing-jewel habitat


Golden dancing-jewel status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Golden dancing-jewel threats

The golden dancing-jewel has suffered from extensive habitat loss, leaving it with a restricted range and vulnerable to extinction. The forest areas of all three mountain ranges have largely been destroyed during the last century, with remaining fragments generally confined to hill-tops, where no suitable breeding habitat exists (1).


Golden dancing-jewel conservation

Currently, only parts of the East Usambara and the Udzungwa Mountains experience some degree of protection, but protected status here is usually only very weak, and pressure on the remaining forest fragments is very high (3).



Authenticated (24/07/2006) by Dr. Viola Clausnitzer, Chair, IUCN/SSC Odonata Specialist Group.



An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2006)
  2. O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Clausnitzer, V. (2004) Critical species of Odonata in eastern Africa. International Journal of Odonatology, 7(2): 189 - 206.

Image credit

Golden dancing-jewel  
Golden dancing-jewel

© Dr Viola Clausnitzer

Dr Viola Clausnitzer
Chair IUCN Odonata Specialist Group
Graefestr. 17


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