Conspicuous Malachite (Chlorolestes conspicuus)

View the above photo record (by Gregg Darling) in OdonataMap here.

Find the Conspicuous Malachite in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Synlestidae

Chlorolestes conspicuusCONSPICUOUS MALACHITE


Large size

Length up to 65mm; Wingspan reaches 73mm.

The largest species in the genus. Fairly dull coloured but the thorax stripes are relatively broad, bright and noticeable. The thorax and abdomen are metallic-green aging to coppery brown. Males never develop black- banded wings.

The most diagnostic features are the large size, long brownish pterostigmas that are not bi-coloured, and the bright yellow lower thorax stripe that is broad and straight.

Most resembles the un-banded form of Chlorolestes fasciatus (Mountain Malachite) but that species is distinctly smaller, brighter green and has bi-coloured pterostigmas.

The sexes are similar but females are more robustly built.

Click here for more details on identification.

Chlorolestes conspicuus – Male
Kareedouw Mountain, Eastern Cape
Photo by Jorrie Jordaan


This species is found near rivers and streams in both open and wooded valleys, particularly in mountainous fynbos areas. Favours sites with tall fringing vegetation such as restios, reeds, ferns, bushes and the odd tree. Also inhabits seeps and small streams with rich vegetation, on steep mountain slopes.

Habitat – Marloth Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Despite its common name this is not a conspicuous species. Most often seen hanging from a perch over the water, with its wings outstretched in full sunshine.

Mostly active from December to May (See Phenology below).

Status and Conservation

Locally common. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species is confined to natural habitats and is not tolerant of habitat degradation.


It is endemic to south-western South Africa and is restricted to the Western and Eastern Cape provinces.

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

Use this link to embed the above map of distribution records in OdonataMAP:

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

The following map below shows the imputed distribution which has been adjusted for terrain roughness


The next two graphs shows how the occurrence of Conspicuous Malachites varies within the year, i.e. the phenology. There are 82 records in the database for this species, so these results can be treated as moderately reliable. The first plot shows the number of records in each pentade, five-day periods, which start on 1 July and end on 30 June the following year. The maximum number of records in a pentade is nine, in April. The blue line is generated by a smoother, an algorithm which aims to separate the “signal” from the “noise”, and shows the pattern of seasonality for this species. The second plot shows only the blue line, and it is scaled to lie between zero and one, for easy comparison between species.

This phenology plot suggests that the main flight period of the Conspicuous Malachite is in late summer, with a peak at the end of March/beginning of April. There appears to be a steady build-up to this peak of abundance, starting in December. There is a fairly rapid decrease in abundance from late-April. This species is unusual for a winter-rainfall region endemic to have records in every month of the year except one (September). There are single records in May, June, August and October and four in July. A lot more OdonataMAP records for the Conspicuous Malachite are needed to confirm (or disprove) the patterns shown in this plot.

Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science projects coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. 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 OdonataMAP project. Rene Navarro is the genius behind the Virtual Museum. 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.