Elegant Malachite, Chlorolestes elegans, Elegante Malagiet

Chlorolestes elegans Elegant Malachite Male Tsaneen LP RSA Nov 2015

100 535 Chlorolestes elegans Elegant Malachite Male Houtbosdorp LP RSA Jan 2020r 1

Chlorolestes elegans Elegant Malachite Male Houtbosdorp LP RSA Jan 2020

Short description:

Elegant Malachite, Chlorolestes elegans, Elegante Malagiet is large to very large damselfly, dark metallic green and brown, usually with clear wings, but may also be banded.

Family Synlestidae Tillyard, 1917

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100 538  Male Houtbosdorp LP RSA Jan 2020r 9Image Gallery 

100 542  Male Close up Houtbosdorp LP RSA Jan 2020r 4 Male









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Short description:

Large to very large damselfly, dark metallic green and brown, usually with clear wings, but may also be banded.

Key identification features:


  • Length 56 - 59 - 63 mm ♂; 51 -52 - 53 mm ♀;wingspan 66-69-71 mm ♂;
  • Face dark metallic green. Head dark metallic green above. Anteclypeus creamy. Mandibles and genae creamy. Labrum black/grey
  • Eyes greenish black above, greyish black below. 
  • Thorax metallic green dorsal stripe with black/dark mid-dorsal stripe. Antehumeral stripe brown, starting with a yellow triangle with the apex towards to front margin blurring to a narrow brownish stripe before broadening to clear dark brown. The brown antihumeral stripe is undercut by narrow yellow stripe thinning out to a narrow point towards the front margin of the lateral thorax. The yellow stripe may be intruded by brown near the hind margin. Humeral stripe metallic green. Below the humeral stripe is a distinct slightly upwards curved stripe ending at the metastigma, with the hind margin bulging into a distinct clublike shape,(Species diagnostic). The curved yellow stripe is bordered below by a broad brown strip the fades to a sharp point when passed the metastigma. After the metastigma the yellow stripe fades and broadens curving upwards towards the front margin of the thorax stripe. Lower lateral thorax dull white\straw colour mottled with dark blue spots. Underside dull straw colour with three distinct dark brown marks that looks like a frowning human mask.   
  • Wings clear in most males, some with distinct black and white banding. Pterostigmas mostly blackish brown, outer sections tend to be lighter.
  • Abdomen dull metallic green with indistinct yellow rings at start of each segment.Segments 9 and 10 pruinescent greyish blue.
  • The description above is for mature male Colours may vary in intensity with age being lighter when young  becoming much darker with old age.


  • Similar to male, although with very little or no pruinescence on segments 9 and 10.
  • It favours montane streams and small rivers with pools and clearings in well forested areas.
  • Mostly seen at rest with outstretched wings, hanging from vegetation in sunflecks high in the forest'
  • Sometimes found hanging from shrubs in sunny areas near the ground.
Compared with other species:
  • The markings, behaviour and habitat makes this species unique 
Distribution Map May 2020










South Africa:

  • Localised species recorded only from streams above 1 200 m elevation in the Magoebaskloof area. Africa


  • Found in localised areas of the highlands of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.
Further reading:

A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species   Least Concern
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 660110

Credit to Michael J. Samways & John P. Simaika Manual of Freshwater Assessment for South Africa: Dragonfly Biotic Index