Family Coenagrionidae    Kirby, 1890

  • The common names of the three genera are:
    • African Bluets
    • Sailing Bluets
    • Forktailed Bluets
  • For ease of navigating the website will use the collective name Bluets in menus except where the species in individualy mentioned
  • Sailing bluets
    • Six species are confined to Africa, Madagascar and Arabia
  • African Bluets 
    • 12 species are endemic to Africa with one in Madagascar
  • Sailing Bluets
    • Five species are confined to Africa and Arabian Sea island of Socotra (near Yemen)
  • Forktail Bluets 
    • Endemic to Africa
    • Three species
    • One endemic to South Africa (Proischnura polychromatica) (Mauve Bluet )
  • African Bluets
    • Favouring stagnant and marshy, often temporary, conditions.. Most are found in open landscapes, often in highlands
    • A. pseudelongatum is found in shady forest swamps, as is the rather black and greenish A. vaginale, also in lowlands.
    • A. cuneistigma is restricted to stream pools at 1500-1600 m in the Chimanimani Mountains of eastern Zimbabwe.
  • Sailing Bluets
    • Inhabit open pools, perching just above the surface, often far from the waterside.
    • A. nigridorsum and A. vansomereni can even perch on the water surface, sometimes drifting with the wind as if they are sailing.
  • Forktailed Bluets
    • Habitats typically have dense vegetation (grass, moss) and very shallow water.
    • The best sites not only warm up quickly, but also have a slight current, e.g. boggy runnels or dense mats of floating vegetation along streams.
General identification features
  • African Bluets
    • Small (hindwing 13-22 mm) and slender
    • Young Africallagma males are brownish, often with a pinkish hue. Thorax is often marked with black, but sometimes these markings are much reduced or faded to brown, appearing as ‘ghost’ stripes.
    • It appears many species occur in both dark and pale forms, although in A. glaucum the dark form predominates, and in A. pallidulum and A. subtile the pale form
    • Characters of markings should therefore be used with care and certain identification relies on the appendages.
  • Sailing Bluets
    • Very small (hindwing 11-15 mm) blue damselflies, with the exception of the medium sized (hindwing 20-22 mm) Socotran endemic A. granti.
    • The postocular spots are typically narrow and connected, creating a characteristic blue line on the back of the head.
  • Forktailed Bluets
    • The three small (hindwing 12-18 mm) species superficially recall Ischnura but are less black overall, have long splayed cerci, and black pterostigmas with at most a narrow whitish rim.
    • The tiny and dark purple P. polychromatica is currently known from only two areas in the Western Cape,
    • P. rotundipennis is confined to South Africa’s highveld,
    • The most numerous bluets found at marshy spots in most mountainous areas of tropical Africa are usually P. subfurcata. (Fork-tailed Bluet)
  • Click on the images to link to the description page.
  • Where possible images of males are shown To view females follow the link yo the description page.
  • African Bluets


Sailing Bluets

Forktailed Bluets


Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014