101 069 Pseudagrion commoniae Black Sprite Male Tshipise LP March 2014

Black Sprite.    Swartgesie.

Family Coenagrionidae Kirby, 1890

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Short Description:

Small to medium sized, mostly black above with no postocular spots, and a grey-tipped abdomen.

Key identification features:


  • Face and head above velvet black. Labrum shiny black. Postocular spots absent.
  • Eyes above and in front black, lower back portion of eyes deep red and green All black in some individuals.
  • Neck and thorax black from above, strongly pruinescent light greyish blue below. Legs black.
  • Wings clear with black venation becomings lightly smoky with age. Pterostigmas blackish brown.
  • Abdomen black above, dull green below, with brown rings at the end of each segment.Segments 8 and 9 bright pruinescent light grey to light blue. Segment 10 black with some pruinescence.


  • Light brown above,  greenish below with weak and dark broken stripes.
Compared with other species:
  • Pseudagrion massaicum is bright orange and the only one of the red heads with bright orange or brown sides of the thorax.
  • Pseudagrion massaicum has large bright reddish brown dumbbell-shaped postocular spots linked by a reddish brown bar.
  • Postocular spots of the Pseudagrion acacia are green, Pseudagrion sjoestedti and Pseudagrion vaalense are smaller and light-orange, Pseudagrion sublacteum are yellowish brown
  • Pseudagrion massaicum has all blue S8 and S9 with small black dorsal marking and the end of each segment.
Distribution and habitat:

Northern KZN, lowveld Mp, Lp and northwards to Ethiopia
Frequents pools and and water holes, but its preferred habitat is the sluggish reaches of streams and rivers,
sometimes where the water is very clouded

  • It rests and flies among rushes and sedges at the margin of the water and usually perches close to the water on emergent twigs, generally reluctant to fly.
Further reading:

Odonata Atlas of Africa - VMU Number 663720
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
The IUCN red list of Threatened Species (Least Concern)
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa