Dysphaea dimidiata Selys, 1853 (Black Velvetwing)
by Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas
Dysphaea dimidiata Selys, 1853 (Black Velvetwing)
by Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas

Black Velvetwing or scientifically known as Dysphaea dimidiata is a moderate-sized damselfly with a hindwing length of 31 mm. This species belongs to the order Odonata in the family Euphaeidae. It has a quite heavily built body where the whole body and parts of its wings are in dark blue and will display a beautiful iridescent blue colour on its wings at a certain angle under the sun. The females have a different appearance from the males which is rather dull with yellowish-brown colour (Choong et al., 2017).

In general, Anisoptera (dragonflies) and Zygoptera (damselflies) have an almost identical appearance at a glance. However, there are some characteristics that separate between the two, which one of them is the position of the wings during perching. Zygoptera shows two perching modes; one with closed wings and another one with open wings. Most species of Zygoptera perch with closed wings, but species in 43 genera of eight families at least occasionally, in most cases usually, perch with open wings (Paulson, 2004); for example Dysphaea dimidiata.

According to Paulson (1981), he spotted one of the Dysphaea males with its wings opened, depressing the wings at an angle below the horizontal, which is very much as in the position adopted by many libellulids at rest. This open wing perching behaviour is quite extraordinary for damselfly species (Choong et al., 2017).

The Black Velvetwing is a widely distributed species. It occurs at many localities including many protected areas, occupying a broad range of lowland forest stream habitats, and it is tolerant to disturbance from commercial logging activities (Dow, 2020). This damselfly species prefers shady, stagnant and slow-flowing forest streams and rivers in lowland areas (Izzat-Husna & Ahmad, 2014). It is widespread in Sundaland and Thailand (Orr, 2005). Currently, the Black Velvetwing is categorised as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List. However, it is believed to be extinct in Singapore (Tang et al., 2010).


  1. Choong, C.Y., Yasser, M.A. & Nurfarhana-Hizan, H. (2018). Ancient Creatures: Dragonflies and Damselflies of Malaysia. Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources, Putrajaya, Malaysia. pp. 115.
  2. Dow, R.A. (2020). Dysphaea dimidiata (amended version of 2019 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T190806A176241846. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from
  3. Izzat-Husna, M. & Ahmad, A. (2014). Odonata (Class Insecta) Of Sungkai Wildlife Reserve, Perak, Malaysia. Journal of Wildlife and Parks 29, 23-30.
  4. Orr, A.G. (2005). A Pocket Guide: Dragonflies of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Natural History Publication (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. pp. 127.
  5. Paulson, D.R. (1981). Peculiar wing position in Dysphaea dimidiata Selys (Zygoptera: Euphaeidae). Notulae odonatologicae. 1 (8), 134-135.
  6. Paulson, D.R. (2004). Why do some zygopterans (Odonata) perch with open wings? International Journal of Odonatology. 7 (3), 505-515.
  7. Tang, H.B., Wang, L.K. & Hämäläinen, M. (2010). A Photographic Guide to the Dragonflies of Singapore. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. pp. 223.
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