Family Lestidae Calvert, 1901
Distribution Worldwide
  • 9 Genera approximately 150 species 
    Genus Lestes with over 80 species worldwide
Distribution in Africa and surrounding Islands
  • Most species breed in standing waters, often seasonal, small and/or densely vegetated, but may be found far from water. Mostly in open areas, favour more marshy habitats, ephemeral pans or streams. Some species are more often found in or near forest (some often at higher elevations). L. pallidus may also be found in very dry regions
General identification features
  • Within the Genus Lestes all species typically perch with abdomen hanging and wings half-open.
  • They are fairly small to fairly large (hindwing 17-29 mm)
  • Rather dull and inconspicuous damselflies, although often with distinctly blue eyes. 
  • Many species are variable in coloration, from a plain pale colour with some scattered dark markings, to completely dark. Dark markings often have a bronze sheen, but only two species are truly marked metallic green. Moreover many species develop thin whitish pruinosity on (parts of) thorax and abdomen.
  • The relative size of the pterostigmas can be useful, but the measurements given below are approximate
  • It is possible that once phylogenetic studies are done that African species will move to now unused genera like Africalestes, Paralestes and/or Xerolestes.
  • Only images of male
  • To view females and for the full description of the species click on the images

Click on images to view species.


[Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]