White Malachite (Chlorolestes umbratus)

Link to the OdonataMAP record which contains the above photograph (by Desire Darling) of a White Malachite.

Chlorolestes umbratus, the White Malachite is a species of damselfly in the family Synlestidae.


Medium Sized

Length reaches 47 mm; Wingspan can attain 52 mm

Mature males develop a whitish pruinose-blue bloom on the upper thorax, and smoky-black and white wing bands. Non-pruinose males and females have a metallic-green or brown thorax and abdomen; the thorax sides have yellow antehumeral stripes. Both sexes can be distinguished from other malachites by their small size, uniformly coloured pterostigmas and wing venation.

Chlorolestes umbratus – Nature’s Valley, Western Cape
Photo by Andre Marais


It is most common along shady, forested streams and rivers, but also occurs at well vegetated streams in fynbos environments.

Habitat – Vogelgat, Western Cape
Photo by Sharon Stanton


An attractive, shade loving species that is mostly seen hanging from plants over the water. Mature males are conspicuous in the dappled forest light. Seldom seen away from water. Females are found in the same vicinity as the males but are far more cryptically coloured.

Status and Conservation

Chlorolestes umbratus is a fairly common but localised species. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is moderately sensitive to habitat damage.


It is endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape provinces in South Africa.

The map below shows the distribution of records for Chlorolestes umbratus in the OdonataMAP database, as at January 2020.

The following map below is an imputed map, produced by an interpolation algorithm, which attempts to generate a full distribution map from the partial information in the map above. This map will be improved by the submission of records to the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum

Ultimately, we will produce a series of maps for all the odonata species in the region. The current algorithm is a new algorithm. The objective is mainly to produce “smoothed” maps that could go into a field guide for odonata. This basic version of the algorithm (as mapped above) does not make use of “explanatory variables” (e.g. altitude, terrain roughness, presence of freshwater — we will be producing maps that take these variables into account soon). Currently, it only makes use of the OdonataMAP records for the species being mapped, as well as all the other records of all other species. The basic maps are “optimistic” and will generally show ranges to be larger than what they probably are.

These maps use the data in the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum, and also the database assembled by the previous JRS funded project, which was led by Professor Michael Samways and Dr KD Dijkstra.

Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Sally Hofmeyr, Ryan Tippett & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Sally Hofmeyr, Ryan Tippett & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. Sally Hofmeyr has many years' experience in the academic world, writing her own material and editing the work of others. Her academic background is in the natural sciences: her PhD and first postdoc in ornithology and environmental change (Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town). Ryan Tippett is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the VMU since 2014 and has currently submitted over 11000 records. He is also on the expert identification panel for the Odonata Map project. Prof Les Underhill has been Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town since it started in 1991. Although citizen science in biology is Les’s passion, his academic background is in mathematical statistics.