White Malachite (Chlorolestes umbratus)

View the above photo record (by Desire Darling) in OdonataMAP here.

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

Family Synlestidae

Chlorolestes umbratusWHITE MALACHITE


Medium Sized

Length reaches 47 mm; Wingspan can attain 52 mm

Mature males develop a whitish pruinose bloom on the upper thorax. They also possess 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. These individuals are perhaps most similar to Chlorolestes conspicuus, but that species is much larger and there is no overlap in size.

Both sexes are distinguished from other Chlorolestes by their small size, uniformly coloured pterostigmas and wing venation.

Click here for more details on identification.

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


The White Malachite is common along forested streams and rivers. It favours areas of shade and dappled light. Also occurs at well vegetated streams in fynbos environments. Usually seen perched over pools and calm sections of water.

Habitat – Vogelgat, Western Cape
Photo by Sharon Stanton


An attractive species, 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 less conspicuous.

Status and Conservation

Chlorolestes umbratus is a fairly common but localised species. 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.