Early spring records of dragonflies from southern Turkey, with special reference to the sympatric occurrence of Crocothemis erythraea (Brullé, 1832) and C. servilia (Drury, 1773)(Anisoptera: Libellulidae)
K.-D. Dijkstra & Vincent Kalkman

Dijkstra, K.-D. & Vincent Kalkman, 2001. Early spring records of dragonflies from southern Turkey, with special reference to the sympatric occurrence of Crocothemis erythraea (Brullé, 1832) and C. servilia (Drury, 1773)(Anisoptera: Libellulidae). Notulae odonatologica 5(7): 85:88.


Dragonfly records collected from 29 March to 9 April 1999 in southern Turkey are presented. They are among the earliest ever published for this country. New localities of Lestes macrostigma (Göksu Delta) and Anax immaculifrons (Antalya) are noteworthy. Crocothemis erythraea and C. servilia were found emerging from the same ditch in the Göksu Delta. Notes on their identification in teneral state and as exuviae are added.


Not much is known about the start of the flying season of dragonflies in the eastern Mediterranean. In the early spring of 1999 we spent several days on the south coast of Turkey. Although relatively few dragonflies were encountered, the records provide an insight into the earliest dates that the adults of these species emerge. Most records were obtained in the Göksu Delta near the town of Silifke. The northern half of the delta is entirely agricultural. The southern half is dominated by the large brackish lagoon Akgöl, which is surrounded by dunes and marshes. Among the dunes lie several shallow (probably largely ephemeral) pools, some of which are quite large. Especially the strip between Akgöl and the sea south of Denizkent has various such pools, records from which were previously published by ARLT (1999). Additional records, mostly of larvae, were collected from a stream near Antalya.


1. Western side of Akgöl near Denizkent, 8 km south of Silifke, Göksu Delta,  Icel (Mersin) Province (36°17'N 33°56'E). Dunes with shallow, open pools. 29 March 1999.
2. Dalyan, area between Hurma and mouth of Göksu River, south of Kurtulus, 11 km south-east of Silifke,  Icel Province (36°18'N 34°02'E). Pools between dunes. 30 March 1999.
3. Northern side of Akgöl, west of Kurtulus, 6 km south of Silifke, Göksu Delta,  Icel Province. Reedy canal through arable land (36°19'N 33°58'E). 31 March 1999.
4. Between Altinkum and mouth of Göksu River, east of Kurtulus, 13 km east of Silifke, Icel Province (36°20'N 34°04'E). Dunes. 1 April 1999.
5. Kurtulus, 8 km east-south-east of Silifke, Göksu Delta, Icel Province (36°20'N 34°00'E). Small ditch in village. 2 April 1999.
Habitat Crocrothemis
6. Limonlu Stream north of Limonlu village, 36 km north-east of Silifke, Icel Province (36°34'N 34°14'E). Stream through orchards. 4 April 1999.
7. Western side of Akgöl near Denizkent, 8 km south of Silifke, Göksu Delta,  Icel Province (36°17'N 33°56'E). Dunes with shallow, open pools. 5 April 1999.
8. Karaman Stream at Yukari karaman, 16 km north-west of Antalya, Antalya Province (36°58'N 30°34'E). Rocky stream with numerous shallow pools. 9 April 1999.
Habitat Anax immaculifrons

List of recorded species

Collected material is indicated first. Additional sight records are also given.

· Calopteryx splendens intermedia Selys, 1887: (6) 1 male. First adult recorded: 4 April 1999.
· Lestes macrostigma Eversmann, 1836: (7) 7 teneral males, 2 teneral females, 54 exuviae. At least a hundred tenerals and countless exuviae were present. First adult recorded: 5 April 1999.
· Sympecma fusca (Vander Linden, 1823): (7) 4 males. Ten males were seen.
· Cercion lindenii (Selys, 1840): (7) 1 teneral male, 1 teneral female. At least ten tenerals seen. First adult recorded: 5 April 1999.
Lestes macrostigma
· Ischnura elegans (Vander Linden, 1820): (1) 3 males, 3 females (7) 2 males, 2 females (8) 1 teneral male, 18 larvae. Sightings: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (7) (8) numerous at all these sites but apparently just emerging at the last, (6) 2. First adult recorded: 29 March 1999.
· Ischnura pumilio (Charpentier, 1825): (7) 1 teneral female. First adult recorded: 5 April 1999.
· Platycnemis pennipes (Pallas, 1771): (8) 21 larvae.
· Anax immaculifrons Rambur, 1842: (8) 1 larva.
· Anax imperator Leach, 1815: (6) 3 exuviae (8) 1 larva. Sighting: (3) 1 male. First adult seen: 31 March 1999.
· Anax parthenope Selys, 1839: (2) 1 teneral female. Sightings: (2) 2 tenerals (4) 2 tenerals (7) 2 tandems, 1 female. First adult seen: 30 March 1999.
Anax parthenope
· Hemianax ephippiger (Burmeister, 1839): (6) 1 male. Sightings: (1) 1 female (3) 2 (6) 2. First adult seen: 31 March 1999.
· Onychogomphus forcipatus albotibialis Schmidt, 1954: (8) 7 larvae.
· Crocothemis erythraea (Brullé, 1832): (2) 3 teneral females, 3 exuviae (5) 2 teneral males. Total of five tenerals at (2). First adult recorded: 30 March 1999.
· Crocothemis servilia (Drury, 1773): (5) 1 teneral male, 4 teneral females, 2 exuviae. First adult recorded: 2 April 1999.
· Crocothemis erythraea / servilia: (5) 26 exuviae (8) 2 larvae.
· Orthetrum cf. brunneum (Fonscolombe, 1837): (8) 4 larvae.
Hemianax ephippiger
· Orthetrum cf. chrysostigma Burmeister, 1839: (8) 1 larva.
· Orthetrum coerulescens anceps (Schneider, 1845): (8) 10 larvae. All lack dorsal spines.
· Orthetrum sabina (Drury, 1773): (5) 2 teneral males, 2 exuviae. Exuviae are diagnostic due to the presence of dorsal spines on segments 4 - 7 and seven palpal setae. First adult recorded: 2 April 1999.
· Sympetrum fonscolombii (Selys, 1840): (7) 1 exuviae, 1 larva (8) 1 exuviae. Sightings: (1) 1 female (2) 5 (3) 4 (7) 5 (8) 1 t. First adult recorded: 29 March 1999.
· Sympetrum striolatum (Charpentier, 1840): (5) 1 teneral males, 1 exuviae. First adult recorded: 2 April 1999.
· Sympetrum cf. striolatum: (7) 48 larvae (8) 10 larvae.
· Trithemis annulata (Palisot de Beauvois, 1805): (5) 1 teneral female, 1 exuviae. First adult recorded: 2 April 1999.
· Trithemis cf. annulata: (7) 12 larvae (8) 15 larvae.


Although we were very early in the season, we were able to observe imagines of fifteen species. Eight of these were only seen in teneral condition and it is therefore assumed that we were at the start of their flight period. It is possible that the adults of Anax imperator, A. parthenope, Hemianax ephippiger and Sympetrum fonscolombii are partly wanderers from more southerly regions. It is interesting to note that all the observed species have long flight periods, many of them probably having several generations a year. At least seven of the recorded species are still on the wing in the second half of September (JOEDICKE 1998).
With the exception of Lestes macrostigma, Anax immaculifrons and Crocothemis servilia, all recorded species are widely distributed in Turkey. Lestes macrostigma is now known from six localities (DUMONT 1977, DUMONT et al. 1988, SEIDENBUSCH 1995). The ephemeral, brackish pool where we recorded it is a typical habitat for the species. Five of the six Turkish records were made in the direct vicinity of the Mediterranean Sea. So far the species has not been recorded in Central Anatolia, where suitable habitat appears to be present around saline lakes.

Anax immaculifrons is widespread in the Indian Subcontinent, but becomes rare west of Pakistan. Scattered records have been published from Iran, Lebanon, Israel and several Greek islands (BATTIN 1990, LOHMANN 1990). The record near Antalya is the fourth from Turkey, other localities being Samsat, Alanya and Koycegiz (BUSSE 1993, DUMONT 1977). It is remarkable that, although suitable habitat is present all over southern Turkey, the species appears to be rare. At the end of July, BATTIN (1990) only found early stage larvae on Karpathos, Greece, one of which measured 30 mm. This suggests a lifecycle of two or more years. Our larva was only 14 mm long, which is accordance with this finding.

The most interesting record is undoubtedly the emergence of the closely related species pair Crocothemis erythraea and C. servilia from the same water body. Both are among the most successful species of the Old World Tropics, the first being African and the second Asian in origin. Probably as a consequence of their great colonisation abilities, the two overlap over a large area of West Asia. In the west servilia is found as far as Israel and Central Turkey (DE MARMELS 1995, SCHNEIDER 1985a,b), whilst erythraea is known as far east as south-west Tajikistan and Nepal (BORISOV 1987, CLAUSNITZER & WESCHE 1996). LOHMANN (1981) even mentions the latter for Assam. Our record is the first of syntopic reproduction in the western extension of their shared range, although adults have been collected at the same localities (DE MARMELS 1995, SCHNEIDER 1995a). BORISOV (1987) and KHALIQ et al. (1995) report larvae of both species from the same water bodies in the eastern end of their area of overlap.

Although both species are extremely alike morphologically, they are strikingly dissimilar when teneral. The following distinguishing features between freshly emerged individuals (five of each species) were noted:

1. Erythraea is slightly larger and more robust than servilia, with somewhat broader abdomen and wings. Fore wing: erythraea 29.5 - 32 mm, servilia 28 - 30.5 mm. Average (and range) of the number of cells in the anal loop: erythraea 21.4 (19 - 26), servilia 17.8 (17 - 19).
2. Servilia has distinct creamish white antehumeral stripes. These stand out sharply because the front of the synthorax is darker than the sides (more so than in erythraea). In erythraea a vague stripe may be discernible, but this is not paler than the sides of the synthorax.
3. Servilia has a thin black line along the entire length of the dorsal carina of the abdomen (segments 2 - 10), which is absent or restricted to segments 8 - 10 in erythraea.
4. Servilia has all wings broadly yellow along the anterior edge and brownish wingtips. Erythraea has the wings clear besides basal yellow patches, which are of a deeper orange hue.

Combined these features give erythraea a rather uniform overall impression. With the bold markings on wings and body, servilia is not reminiscent of its relative at first glance at all. The usefulness of this distinction probably decreases as the individuals mature. The cream antehumeral and costal yellow of servilia fade. Nonetheless, the mentioned characters can assist in the identification of these species based on structural features as exemplified by SCHNEIDER (1985b).
According to KHALIQ et al. (1995) the larvae of the two species differ in the relative length of the prementum (shorter in servilia) and the number of palpal and premental setae (less in servilia). In our small sample of exuviae associated with an adult, those of servilia did appear to have a shorter prementum, the hinge reaching up to or slightly past the anterior edge of the mesocoxae. In erythraea it reaches to at least halfway the mesocoxae. The sample was too small to express a reliable difference in setal numbers: A series of 21 exuviae from our unspecified Crocothemis material from Kurtulus did not show two types of setation, nor was there any relation between prementum length and the number of setae. On average they had 10.6 (ranging from 10 to 11) palpal and 14.0 (12 to 16) premental setae. There is no correlation between the number of palpal and premental setae. Even if the species differ on average, it will be of little use in identifying individual specimens: variation within species is probably greater than between them. The usefulness of the premental length must be tested with more specimens of a known identity.
The few differences between erythraea and servilia led PINHEY (1979) to regard them only subspecifically distinct, but his opinion was renounced by LOHMANN (1981) and SCHNEIDER (1985b) based on genitalial characters. The sharing of breeding habitat and the surprising difference between tenerals supports the conclusion that they are specifically distinct.


ARLT, J., 1999, Libellula 18(1/2): 95-96; - BATTIN, T., 1990, Opusc. Zool. Flumin. 47: 1-10; - BORISOV, S.N., 1987, Ekologiya, Moscow 1987(1): 85-87; - BUSSE, R., 1993, Libellula 12(1/2)39-46; - CLAUSNITZER, V., & K. WESCHE, 1996, Opusc. Zool. Flumin. 147: 1-8; - DE MARMELS, J., 1995, Opusc. Zool. Flumin. 128: 1-9; - DUMONT, H.J., 1977, Bull. Ann. Soc. r. belge. Ent. 113(): 119-169; - DUMONT, H.J., A. DEMIRSOY & J. MERTENS, 1988, Notul. Odonatol. 3(2): 22-26; - JOEDICKE, R., 1998, Notul. Odonatol. 5(1): 10-11; - KHALIQ, A., S. ASLAM & S.A. ANJUM, Pakistan Journal of Zoology 27(1): 71-76; - LOHMANN, H., 1981, Odonatologica 10(2): 109-116; - 1990, Opusc. Zool. Flumin. 1990(54): 9-10; - PINHEY, E., 1979, Arnoldia 8(36): 1-7; - SEIDENBUSCH, R., 1995, Notul. Odonatol. 4(5): 85-88; - SCHNEIDER, W., 1985a, Senckenbergiana Biol. 66(1-3): 67-78; - 1985b, Senckenbergiana Biol. 66(1-3): 79-88.

K.-D. Dijkstra & Vincent Kalkman Kalkman@nnm.naturalis.nl