Yellow Presba (Syncordulia gracilis)

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

Find the Yellow Presba in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Synthemistidae

Syncordulia gracilis YELLOW PRESBA


Medium-large size

Length up to 48mm; Wingspan attains 70mm.

Easily differentiated from other presbas by the two diagonal yellow stripes on the sides of the thorax. The sexes are similar but females have broader abdomens and a more pronounced amber wash in the wings.

Most resembles the Rustic Presba (Syncordulia Serendipator) and Gilded Presba (Syncordulia legator), however, neither of these species show well defined yellow stripes on the sides of the thorax. They also have differently patterned abdomens.

Click here for more details on identification of the Yellow Presba.

Syncordulia gracilis – Male
Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Photo by Niall Perrins


Frequents rivers and streams, in mountainous fynbos and grassland habitats. Requires clear, flowing water with rocks and bushy stream-side vegetation. Spends much of its time in the surrounding fynbos or grasslands.

Habitat – Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Photo by Corné Rautenbach


Infrequently found at water and is most often encountered away from the river, hunting over low bushy vegetation. Rests up in dense bushes where it is well camouflaged. Hangs from a branch when perched.

On the wing from mid October to late January. See Phenology below.

Status and Conservation

Uncommon, but still the most regularly encountered Syncordulia species. Listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Endemic to South Africa. Most regular in the Western Cape. Additionally, there are records of this species from the Drakensberg regions of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where it is likely to have been overlooked and under-recorded.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Yellow Presba 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.