Mountain Sprite (Pseudagrion draconis)

View the above photo record (by Corrie du Toit) in OdonataMAP here.

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

Family Coenagrionidae

Pseudagrion draconisMOUNTAIN SPRITE

Identification

Small size

Length up to 37mm; Wingspan reaches 47mm.

Populations in the southern parts of the Western Cape have very reduced or absent postocular spots. These spots are quite large, round and bright blue over the rest of its range.

Most similar to Pseudagrion salisburyense (Slate Sprite) and Pseudagrion spernatum (Upland Sprite).

The Mountain Sprite is differentiated from S. salisburyense by having a pruinose white forehead and a lightly pruinose, dark blue abdomen. Told apart from P. spernatum by having a black rather than green labrum. In addition the species all have differently shaped claspers.

Females are variably coloured from yellowish to green with darker humeral stripes. Best identified by their association with the males.

Click here for more details on identification.

Pseudagrion draconis – Male
Seweweekspoort, Western Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Inhabits streams and rivers in mountainous regions. Frequents sites with running water, large rocks and tall fringing grass, reeds and bushes.

Occurs at lower altitudes in the Western Cape but recorded up to 2100m a.s.l. in the Drakensberg.

Habitat – Seweweekspoort, Western Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Habitat – Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Photo by Sharon Stanton

Behaviour

Perches on vegetation or rocks close to the water. Flies low between emergent and overhanging grass and sedge. Males and females are frequently found side by side.

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

Status and Conservation

Locally common across its range. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Distribution

Endemic to South Africa where it is mainly found in the southern and central mountainous regions. Ranges from the Cedarberg in the Western Cape around to the Drakensberg regions of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Freestate and Lesotho. There are also a few records from southern Gauteng

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