Online atlas of dragonflies and damselflies of South Africa: links to species texts

This website provides a link to the species texts for the dragonflies and damselflies (the order Odonata) occurring South Africa (and it also covers Lesotho and Eswatini (Swaziland)). The dragonflies (the suborder Anisoptera) are listed first, then the damselflies (the suborder Zygoptera). The families within each suborder are listed alphabetically. Within the Family the species are sorted first by genus and then by species.

Each species text has the same set of sections: Identification, Habitat, Behaviour, Status, Distribution and Phenology (the period of the year when each species is in flight). The maps are based on the OdonataMAP database. There is a description of how the interpolated distribution maps were constructed here.

Dragonflies (Anisoptera)

FAMILY Aeshnidae (Emperors and Hawkers)

Evening Hawker Anaciaeschna triangulifera
Vagrant Emperor Anax ephippiger
Blue Emperor Anax imperator
(Eastern) Orange Emperor Anax speratus
Black Emperor Anax tristis
Little Duskhawker Gynacantha manderica
Eastern Duskhawker Gynacantha usambarica
Brown Duskhawker Gynacantha villosa
Stream Hawker Pinheyschna subpupillata
Friendly Hawker Zosteraeschna minuscula
Forest Hawker Zosteraeschna usambarica

FAMILY Corduliidae (Emeralds)

African Emerald Hemicordulia africana

FAMILY Gomphidae (Clubtails)

Common Thorntail Ceratogomphus pictus
Cape Thorntail Ceratogomphus triceraticus
Horned Talontail Crenigomphus cornutus
Clubbed Talontail Crenigomphus hartmanni
Southern Fingertail Gomphidia quarrei
Common Tigertail Ictinogomphus ferox
Spined Fairytail Lestinogomphus angustus
Silke’s Fairytail Lestinogomphus silkeae
Eastern Scissortail Microgomphus nyassicus
Zambezi Siphontail Neurogomphus zambeziensis
Yellowjack Longleg Notogomphus praetorius
Lined Claspertail Onychogomphus supinus
Rock Hooktail Paragomphus cognatus
Corkscrew Hooktail Paragomphus elpidius
Common Hooktail Paragomphus genei
Great Hooktail Paragomphus magnus
Flapper Hooktail Paragomphus sabicus
Bold Leaftail Phyllogomphus selysi

FAMILY Libellulidae (Skimmers, Dropwings, Pintails, Groundlings, Scarlets, Perchers, Widows, Gliders, Baskers, etc)

Stout Pintail Acisoma inflatum
Slender Pintail Acisoma variegatum
Pygmy Basker Aethriamanta rezia
Red Groundling Brachythemis lacustris
Southern Banded Groundling Brachythemis leucosticta

Horned Rockdweller Bradinopyga cornuta
Inspector Chalcostephia flavifrons
Rock Scarlet Crocothemis divisa
Broad Scarlet Crocothemis erythraea
Little Scarlet Crocothemis sanguinolenta
Black Percher Diplacodes lefebvrii
Barbet Percher Diplacodes luminans
Dwarf Percher Diplacodes pumila
African Piedspot Hemistigma albipunctum
Coastal Pennant Macrodiplax cora
Eastern Blacktail Nesciothemis farinosa
Eastern Forestwatcher Notiothemis jonesi
Bottletail Olpogastra lugubris
Little Skimmer Orthetrum abbotti
Banded Skimmer Orthetrum brachiale
Two-striped Skimmer Orthetrum caffrum
Cape Skimmer Orthetrum capicola
Epaulet Skimmer Orthetrum chrysostigma
Guinea Skimmer Orthetrum guineense
Dark-shouldered Skimmer Orthetrum hintzi
Spectacled Skimmer Orthetrum icteromelas
Julia Skimmer Orthetrum julia
Highland Skimmer Orthetrum machadoi
Woodland Skimmer Orthetrum monardi
Robust Skimmer Orthetrum robustum
Elusive Skimmer Orthetrum rubens
Bold Skimmer Orthetrum stemmale
Long Skimmer Orthetrum trinacria
Deceptive Widow Palpopleura deceptor
Yellow-veined Widow Palpopleura jucunda
Lucia Widow Palpopleura lucia
Portia Widow Palpopleura portia
Wandering Glider Pantala flavescens
Banded Duskdarter Parazyxomma flavicans
Phantom Flutterer Rhyothemis semihyalina
Red-veined Darter or Nomad Sympetrum fonscolombii
Black-splashed Elf Tetrathemis polleni
Twister Tholymis tillarga
Keyhole Glider Tramea basilaris
Ferruginous Glider Tramea limbata
Halfshade Dropwing Trithemis aconita
Violet Dropwing Trithemis annulata
Red-veined Dropwing Trithemis arteriosa
Denim Dropwing Trithemis donaldsoni
Highland Dropwing Trithemis dorsalis
Navy Dropwing Trithemis furva
Silhouette Dropwing Trithemis hecate
Orange-winged Dropwing Trithemis kirbyi
Russet Dropwing Trithemis pluvialis
Jaunty Dropwing Trithemis stictica
Elegant Dropwing Trithemis werneri
Red Basker Urothemis assignata
Blue Basker Urothemis edwardsii
St Lucia Basker Urothemis luciana
Southern Riverking Zygonoides fuelleborni
Blue Cascader Zygonyx natalensis
Ringed Cascader Zygonyx torridus
Smoky Duskdarter Zyxomma atlanticum

FAMILY Libelluloidea incertae (Presbas)

Yellow Presba Syncordulia gracilis
Gilded Presba Syncordulia legator
Rustic Presba Syncordulia serendipator
Mahogany Presba Syncordulia venator

FAMILY Macromiidae (Cruisers)

Two-banded Cruiser Phyllomacromia contumax
Sable Cruiser Phyllomacromia monoceros
Darting Cruiser Phyllomacromia picta

Damselflies (Zygoptera)

FAMILY Calopterygidae (Demoiselle)

Glistening Demoiselle Phaon iridipennis

FAMILY Chlorocyphidae (Jewels)

Ruby Jewel Chlorocypha consueta
Dancing Jewel Platycypha caligata
Boulder Jewel Platycypha fitzsimonsi

FAMILY Coenagrionidae (Sprites. Bluets, Slims, Wisps, Citrils, Bluetail)

Opal Slim Aciagrion dondoense
Graceful Slim Aciagrion gracile
Slender Bluet Africallagma fractum
Swamp Bluet Africallagma glaucum
Sapphire Bluet Africallagma sapphirinum
Peak Bluet Africallagma sinuatum
Little Wisp Agriocnemis exilis
White-masked Wisp Agriocnemis falcifera
Gracious Wisp Agriocnemis gratiosa
Pinhey’s Wisp Agriocnemis pinheyi
Orange Wisp Agriocnemis ruberrima
Sailing Bluet Azuragrion nigridorsum
Common Citril Ceriagrion glabrum
Suave Citril Ceriagrion suave
Tropical Bluetail Ischnura senegalensis
Mauve Bluet Proischnura polychromatica
Round-winged Bluet Proischnura rotundipennis
fork-tailed bluets Proischnura sp.
Acacia Sprite Pseudagrion acaciae
Assegai Sprite Pseudagrion assegaii
Springwater Sprite Pseudagrion caffrum
Yellow-faced Sprite Pseudagrion citricola
Catshead Sprite Pseudagrion coeleste
Black Sprite Pseudagrion commoniae
Mountain Sprite Pseudagrion draconis
Palmiet Sprite Pseudagrion furcigerum
Great Sprite Pseudagrion gamblesi
Painted Sprite Pseudagrion hageni
Swarthy Sprite Pseudagrion hamoni
Balinsky’s Sprite Pseudagrion inopinatum
Powder-faced Sprite Pseudagrion kersteni
Makabusi Sprite Pseudagrion makabusiense
Masai Sprite Pseudagrion massaicum
Harlequin Sprite Pseudagrion newtoni
Slate Sprite Pseudagrion salisburyense
Variable Sprite Pseudagrion sjoestedti
Upland Sprite Pseudagrion spernatum
Cherry-eye Sprite Pseudagrion sublacteum
Blue-sided Sprite Pseudagrion sudanicum
Vaal Sprite Pseudagrion vaalense

FAMILY Lestidae (Spreadwings)

Cryptic Spreadwing Lestes dissimulans
Tawny Spreadwing Lestes ictericus
Pallid Spreadwing Lestes pallidus
Highland Spreadwing Lestes plagiatus
Spotted Spreadwing Lestes tridens
Sickle Spreadwing Lestes uncifer
Smoky Spreadwing Lestes virgatus

FAMILY Platycnemididae (Streamjacks, Threadtails, Riverjack and Goldtail)

Goldtail Allocnemis leucosticta
Sooty Threadtail Elattoneura frenulata
Common Threadtail Elattoneura glauca
Common (Forest/Savanna) Riverjack Mesocnemis singularis

Kubusi Streamjack Metacnemis valida
Ceres Streamjack Spesbona angusta

FAMILY Synlestidae (Malachites)

Conspicuous Malachite Chlorolestes conspicuus
Drakensberg Malachite Chlorolestes draconicus
Elegant Malachite Chlorolestes elegans
Mountain Malachite Chlorolestes fasciatus
Forest Malachite Chlorolestes tessellatus
White Malachite Chlorolestes umbratus
Queen Malachite Ecchlorolestes nylephtha
Rock Malachite Ecchlorolestes peringueyi

Recommended Citation Format: Tippett RM, Underhill LG, Navarro RA, Loftie-Eaton M 2023. Online atlas of the dragonflies and damselflies of South Africa: links to species texts. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available online at

We acknowledge the support of the JRS Biodiversity Foundation in the production of the Odonata atlas and these species texts.