Springwater Sprite (Pseudagrion caffrum)

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

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

Family Coenagrionidae

Pseudagrion caffrumSPRINGWATER SPRITE

Identification

Small size

Length reaches 36mm; Wingspan attains 47mm.

Pseudagrion caffrum is one of three ‘yellow-faced’ sprites in the region. The other two are Pseudagrion citricola and Pseudagrion gamblesi. The latter is easily distinguished by its significantly larger size and bright blue terminal segments. Pseudagrion caffrum is most similar to Pseudagrion citricola, but can be differentiated by lacking postocular spots and blue terminal segments on the abdomen.

Females are among the more distinctive in the genus. They can be told by the combination of the bright green thorax sides and red-brown upper thorax.

Click here for more details on identification.

Pseudagrion caffrum – Male
Near Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Alan Manson

Habitat

Inhabits shallow, rocky streams in grasslands. Found mostly in hilly uplands along the escarpment. Favours sites with rich sedge and grass growth and soggy ground.

Habitat – Montane stream surrounded by dense grass and soggy ground.
Near Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Corne Rautenbach

Behaviour

Pseudagrion caffrum is a cryptic species and is easily overlooked. Sits low down among dense grass and is normally reluctant to fly.

Most active from October to May (see Phenology below).

Status and Conservation

The Springwater Sprite is fairly common but localised. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Sensitive to habitat degradation and only occurs in pristine, undisturbed habitats.

Distribution

Pseudagrion caffrum is endemic to South Africa. It is distrubuted along the eastern side of the Drakensberg escarpment from the central Eastern cape, up through KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Marginally into Limpopo.

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

Phenology

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.