Assegai Sprite (Pseudagrion assegaii)

View the above photo record (by Evert Kleynhans) in OdonataMAP here.

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

Family Coenagrionidae

Pseudagrion assegaiiASSEGAI SPRITE


Small size

Length up to 34mm; Wingspan reaches 42mm.

Most similar to Pseudagrion coeleste (Catshead Sprite) and Africallagma glaucum (Swamp Bluet).

Differentiated from Pseudagrion coeleste by being smaller and bluer. The Assegai Sprite lacks the hints of green on the thorax and eyes of the Catshead Sprite. Most importantly the two species differ in the shape of the black marking on the second abdomen segment. Pseudagrion assegaii shows a spear or assegai-shaped marking, whereas Pseudagrion coeleste has a marking that resembles the head of a cat.

Told apart from Africallagma glaucum by being slightly larger and by having large, unconnected postocular spots. They can be further differentiated by the shape of the claspers.

Click here for more details on identification.

Pseudagrion assegaii – Male
Linyanti, Botswana
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Inhabits still water habitats with emergent and floating vegetation such as sedge and waterlilies. Favours the fringes of natural habitats like lakes, pans and floodplains, but will also utilise suitable man-made dams.


Perches close to the water on emergent plant stems. Especially fond of resting on waterlily leaves.

On the wing from August to March (see Phenology below).

Status and Conservation

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


Pseudagrion assegaii has a very disjunct distribution in Southern and East Africa. Ranges from northern South Africa to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda.

In South Africa the Assegai Sprite is recorded from the Limpopo, Gauteng and North-West provices. Most numerous in the western parts of Limpopo.

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