Powder-faced Sprite (Pseudagrion kersteni)

The photo above (by Eugene Troskie) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Pseudagrion kersteni, commonly known as the Powder-faced Sprite is a damselfly in the family Coenagrionidae.

Identification

Small size

Length up to 37mm; Wingspan reaches 49mm.

Males closely resemble Pseudagrion furcigerum (Palmiet Sprite). The two species are best identified by the colour of the labrum on the face. Pseudagrion furcigerum has a bright, lime green labrum, while Pseudagrion kersteni has a blackish labrum.

Females are similar to those of many other Pseudagrion species and are best identified by their association with the males.

Pseudagrion kersteni – Male
Near Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Inhabits the grassy fringes of streams and rivers and prefers flowing water.

Behaviour

A fairly conspicuous damselfly that perches prominently on grass or reed stems over the water. Females usually a little further from the water among grass and bushes.

On the wing from September to May

Status and Conservation

A very common species over much of South Africa, but scarce in the Western Cape. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Distribution

Found virtually throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, occuring wherever there is suitable habitat.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Powder-faced 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.

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.