View the above photo record (by Ryan Tippett) in OdonataMAP here.
Find the Vaal Sprite in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.
Pseudagrion vaalense – VAAL SPRITE
Small size but is the largest of the ‘Red’ sprites in South Africa.
Length up to 39mm; Wingspan attains 49mm
Like many other Pseudagrion species the males colouration is variable and changes gradually with age. The postocular spots in particular range from greenish when young through greenish-orange to orange-brown in aged individuals. The sides of the thorax are greenish-blue when young. The light blue pruinosity starts low down and eventually extends up to the antehumeral stripe with maturity.
Females are khaki brown, often with a thin pale blue dusting on the sides of the thorax. They are best identified by their association with the males.
Click here for more details on identification.
The Vaal Sprite inhabits strong flowing rivers in open landscapes. The preferred habitat is fast flowing water with abundant rocks and some emergent and bank side vegetation such as reeds and grasses. It appears to somewhat avoid large stretches of broken or white water. In areas where they are numerous, this species will also occupy slow-moving parts of rivers and quiet backwaters. Pseudagrion vaalense mostly occupies undisturbed habitats and generally avoids dams and degraded stretches of rivers.
Seldom found away from rivers. They perch prominently at sunny locations on rocks and vegetation close to the water. Weary and alert, often flying to midstream rocks and reeds when disturbed. Frequently hovers over eddies and swirls where the current is strong. The flight is rapid and low over the water. The females are usually found in the same vicinity as the males.
Active from October to May (see Phenology below)
Status and Conservation
Pseudagrion vaalense is locally common at suitable sites within its restricted distribution. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Vaal Sprite is moderately sensitive to habitat degradation and occurs mostly in undisturbed places. The species has not adapted to man-made habitats.
Endemic to South Africa and extreme Southern Namibia. It is restricted to the Orange/Vaal River system and its major tributaries.
Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Vaal Sprite in the OdonataMAP database as at February 2020.
The next 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.