Swarthy Sprite (Pseudagrion hamoni)

View the above photo record (by John Wilkinson) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the Swarthy Sprite in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Coenagrionidae

Pseudagrion hamoniSWARTHY SPRITE


Small size

Length up to 39mm; Wingspan reaches 50mm.

This species shows much variety in colouration, depending on age.

Most closely resembles Pseudagrion commoniae (Black Sprite). Both species may show a uniformly pruinescent black upper thorax, blue thorax sides and blue between the wings. P. hamoni has red and black eyes with the red being visible both on top and in the front of the eyes. The eyes of P. commoniae are black above and in front, only showing a small amount of red on the undersides.

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

Click here for more details on identification.

Pseudagrion hamoni – Male
Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Occupies still or slow moving sections of rivers, as well as the vegetated fringes of dams, pans and pools. Often found where there are patches of floating aquatic plants.

Habitat – Mkuze River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Rowan Poortier


Perches on vegetation or rocks near the water. Males and females are frequently found side by side.

Most active from October to April but recorded year round at some sites. See Phenology below.

Status and Conservation

Common in NE South Africa. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Widespread across much of Sub-Saharan Africa.

In South Africa it is restricted to the North-East, occuring in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North-West and Gauteng.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Swarthy 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.