This robust medium-sized dragonfly has a wingspan of 60 mm. The mature male has a dark red head and a yellow labium with brown central spot. The eyes are red with white spots on the rear edge, and the frons is dark metallic purplish-red. The pro thorax is violet with slightly darker longitudinal stripes. The membranous wings have distinctive red veins, the pterostigma is orange-brown and there is a large orange-brown splash at the base of the hind wings. The abdomen is fairly broad and is pinkish-violet, with purple markings on the top of each segment and blackish markings on the terminal three segments. Females are a similar size to males but the thorax is brownish and the abdomen is yellow with dark brown markings. The wings of females lack the red veins of males but have similar orange-brown patches. It is very similar in appearance to the red-veined dropwing (Trithemis arteriosa), but that species has a more slender abdomen and a wedge-shaped black area on either side of the tip of the abdomen.
Trithemis annulata is a very common species throughout its wide range which includes most of Africa, the Mediterranean area and the Arabian Peninsula. Although it may be threatened locally by habitat loss, in general it seems to be increasing in abundance, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of least concern
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