Like other dragonflies, the violet dropwing begins its life as an egg laid in a water body by the female. After hatching, it spends the first stages of life as an aquatic larva, or nymph, which breathes through internal gills (3) (6). The larva remains in the water as it passes through a number of developmental stages, undergoing a series of moults as it grows larger. Eventually, the larva emerges from the water and moults into the adult form (6). The adult violet dropwing then spends some time maturing until it is fully mature and capable of reproduction (4) (6).
In most dragonfly species, the adult male perches near the waterside waiting for a female, and may defend a territory. During mating, the male holds the female by the head using specialised appendages, known as ‘claspers’, at the end of the abdomen. Male dragonflies have secondary reproductive organs towards the front of the abdomen, from which the female receives the sperm. While being held by the male, the female dragonfly bends the tip of her abdomen forwards to receive the sperm packet, creating a shape known as a mating ‘wheel’ (3) (4) (6).
Many male dragonflies keep hold of or guard the female until the eggs are laid, to ensure no other males can mate with her (3) (4) (6). As in other members of the Libellulidae family, the female violet dropwing is likely to scatter the eggs over the surface of the water by dipping her abdomen into the water while flying over it (3) (4).
The violet dropwing larva is an opportunistic predator, catching prey by shooting out its enlarged and modified mouthparts (3) (6), which are armed with hooks on the end (6). The adult violet dropwing is also an opportunistic and effective predator, using its acute vision to detect prey, and its outstretched, bristly legs as a ‘basket’ to capture insects in flight (3) (4) (6).
In the violet dropwing, adults are usually seen between November and May in South Africa (4), between May and October in parts of northern Africa, and from April to October in Turkey (2). In the Sahara, adults of this species may be seen year-round, and in Europe they are thought to be active in all summer months (2).