Sprites A-Group

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Order ODONATA Fabricius, 1793

Distribution Worldwide - Sprites General
  • Pseudagrion is the largest genus of damselfly in the family Coenagrionidae, with over 140 species.
  • Its range includes most of Africa, much of Asia, and Australia.
  • Africa holds most of the diversity with almost 100 species.
  • It has occupied most of the freshwater habitats in its range, and dominates damselfly communities in habitats as different as desert pools, equatorial rain forests and montane streams.
Distribution in Africa and surrounding Islands
  • The "A-group" has about 45 species - they are predominantly highland species and males lack spines on S10;
Southern Africa

12 species are confined to South Africa:

  • P. caffrum (Springwater Sprite) and P. furcigerum (Palmiet Sprite) occur on smaller streams in the highveld and Cape respectively,
  • P. citricola (Yellow-faced Sprite) and P. draconis (Mountain Sprite) favour larger streams and rivers and are more widespread.
  • P. inopinatum (Balinsky's Sprite) and P. newtoni  Harlequin Sprite) both occur at only a handful of swift rivers with grassy banks in north-eastern South Africa.
General identification features
  • Mainly slender, fairly small to fairly large (hindwing 17-29 mm), black damselflies with colourful accents on head, thorax and abdominal segments 7-10.
  • Identification should rely on mature, fully-coloured specimens.
  • Appendages are essential for identification, but their shape is difficult to describe.
  • The cerci typically have a lower and upper branch with a mouth-like gap between them (lateral view).
  • The inner side of the ventral border of the lower branch is often expanded into a ridge- or wing-like flange, which at its basal end may be developed into a marked angle or tooth (dorsal view).
  • Separate from this (placed more basally and dorsally on inside of cerci) there may also be a basal tooth
  • Favour relatively cool habitats, e.g. shaded, running and/or elevated, those species inhabiting more open habitats tending to become densely pruinose.
  • P. kersteni, (Powder-faced Sprite) is widespread and the most pruinosed
  • Some rare or localised central African highland species prefer forested streams
  • P. salisburyense (Slate Sprite) prefers pools and slow streams, often shaded, but sometimes open rivers
  • P. gamblesi prefer rather open streams and rivers
  • P. hageni streams in or near forest and woodland
  • Six species are localised in streams or marsh. Some prefer more in shade or open areas (P. makabusiense, Makabusi Sprite in the southern African region)
General Description
  • Male of group similar to Pseudagrion B;
    • Relatively small in size, Hw under 35 mm, Abd under 40 mm;
    • Postocular spots often present 
    • Transverse ridge on frons absent
    • Abdomen never with orange or red, but often with blue;
    • Black markings usually more extensive, humeral stripe usually present, if absent body often with blue
    • Frontwing quadrilateral with anterior border clearly shorter than distal border
    • Arculus stands at or closer to Ax2.
  • Male of group differs by
    • Apex of S10 bearing black denticles.
  • Only images of males shown
  • Selected in random order as illustration of the A and B group sprites
  • The selection is not a representative of the Africa species list
Learn more about species in Sprite A-group
  • B-Group
  • To view a list of B-Group Sprite images Click HERE
  • Widespread across Africa

[Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]