Balinsky’s Sprite (Pseudagrion inopinatum)

View the above photo record (by Alan Manson) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the Balinsky’s Sprite in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Coenagrionidae

Pseudagrion inopinatumBALINSKY’S SPRITE


Small to medium sized

Length up to 42mm; Wingspan reaches 53mm.

Males most resemble Pseudagrion spernatum (Upland Sprite) and Pseudagrion draconis (Mountain Sprite). The three species are similar. Balinsky’s Sprite males are readily differentiated from the Upland and Mountain Sprites as those species lack the purple-mauve terminal segments of Pseudagrion inopinatum.

Females are pale greenish-yellow and black. They show light blue postocular spots, a buff forehead and a pale blue labrum, the combination of which is diagnostic.

Click here for more details on identification.

Pseudagrion inopinatum – Male
Komati River, Mpumalanga
Photo by Sharon Stanton


Inhabits fast flowing rivers with grass and sedge lined banks. Found in mid-altitude areas at around 1000m a.s.l.

Habitat – Komati River, Mpumalanga
Photo by Sharon Stanton


Perches on emergent and overhanging grass stems close to fast flowing water.

Most active from early October until late March (see Phenology below).

Status and Conservation

Rare and localised endemic. Listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Endemic to South Africa where it is highly localised. Recorded from two widely separated areas, one around Badplaas and Machadodorp in Mpumalanga, and the other near Bulwer in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Balinsky’s 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.


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.