Tuesday 18 June
Black pennant (Selysiothemis nigra)
Black pennant fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Black pennant description
A small and graceful dragonfly, the black pennant (Selysiothermis nigra) is distinguished by its large, fragile-looking wings and distinctive ‘equals sign’ shaped pterostigma (the dark coloured cells near the tip of the wings) (2). The male black pennant is uniformly black in colour, although it may sometimes develop a whitish patch on the thorax and abdomen, giving it a frosty or dusty appearance, while females and immature males have a more sandy-brown colouration, with extensive black markings (2) (3). The wings of the black pennant are clear and shiny, with very fine veins patterning the surface (4). The alternative name for this agile species, ‘the desert darter’, comes from the way in which the black pennant makes short, exploratory flights, or darts, from perch to perch when it hunts or flies (5) (6).
- Selysiothemis advena. Top
BBC Wildlife Finder:
Worldwide Dragonfly Association:
Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi:
- In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented (but not visibly in most spiders).
- Slightly salty water, usually a mixture of salt and freshwater, such as that found in estuaries.
- The fusion of gametes (male and female reproductive cells) to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
- Of the 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.
- Riparian forest
- Forest that is situated along the bank of a river, stream or other body of water.
IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
Dragonflypix (November, 2010)
- Bitzer, R.J. (2003) Odonates of the Middle East and their Potential as Biological Indicators for Restoring the Mesopotamian Marshlands of Southern Iraq. Report for the Eden Again Project to Restore the Mesopotamian Marshlands, Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Iowa.
- Giles, G.B. (1998) An illustrated checklist of the damselflies and dragonflies of the UAE. Tribulus, 8(2): 9-15.
- O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
BBC Wildlife Finder (November, 2010)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Black pennant biology
An energetic dragonfly, the black pennant is an opportunistic predator which will catch a wide variety of small insect prey (5). Like other dragonflies of the Libellulidae family, the black pennant may adopt a distinctive ‘obelisk posture’ when temperatures soar during the day, pointing the abdomen directly at the sun in order to prevent the body from overheating (5) (8).
Breeding occurs in a characteristic ‘mating wheel’ which is initiated when the male black pennant grasps the head of the female using a pair of claspers on the tip of the abdomen (3). Following mating, the female returns to areas of standing water, brackish lagoons or temporary pools to lay a batch of fertilised eggs, which will develop into aquatic larvae (3) (5), before undergoing metamorphosis and emerging as a fully developed adult dragonfly after two to four months (5) (7).Top
Black pennant rangeTop
Black pennant habitat
The black pennant uses wetland habitats such as temporary pools of water, shallow standing coastal waters, reservoirs, canals and irrigation ditches during the aquatic larval stages of its life cycle, while terrestrial habitats of the adult include desert, grassland and riparian forests (1) (8) .Top
Black pennant status
The black pennant is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Black pennant threats
The biggest threat to the black pennant appears to be habitat degradation and the development of wetland and marsh habitat for tourism, especially in the more coastal areas of the European parts of its range (1) (9) (10).Top
Black pennant conservation
The black pennant is dependent on wetland ecosystems for at least part of its life cycle, and will benefit from limiting the amount of development in and around these habitats, especially in coastal areas that are under pressure from tourism. There is little information available regarding the population size and habitat requirements of the black pennant, and further fieldwork is needed (1).Top
Find out more
To find out more about dragonflies, damselflies and their conservation, see:
To find out more about conservation in the UAE, see:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.