Palmiet Sprite (Pseudagrion furcigerum)

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

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

Family Coenagrionidae

Pseudagrion furcigerumPALMIET SPRITE

Identification

Small size

Length attains 37mm; Wingspan up to 49mm.

Males closely resemble Pseudagrion kersteni (Powder-faced Sprite). The Palmiet Sprite is best identified by having a bright, lime green labrum. The Powder-faced Sprite has a blackish labrum.

Females are unusual among sprites in being quite colourful. They range in colour from green to bright orange and show diagnostic dark markings near the tip of the abdomen.

Click here for more details on identification.

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

Habitat

Occupies clear, rocky streams and rivers, often in mountainous areas. Frequents both still and flowing sections, but prefers habitats with a rich growth of sedge, grasses and especially Palmiet reeds.

Habitat – Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Western Cape
Photo by Sharon Stanton

Behaviour

A conspicuous species that sits in the open on an overhanging reed or on a rock close to the water. Often spends long periods perched. Both sexes occur side by side.

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

Status and Conservation

Locally common. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Only known from high quality habitats and as such is not tolerant of habitat degradation.

Distribution

The Palmiet Sprite is endemic to South Africa.

It is found at low elevations in the Western Cape and the south-western parts of the Eastern Cape Province.

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