Sooty Threadtail, Elattoneura frenulata  Roetswartdraadstertjie   Flag of South Africa.svg  

108 012 Male Kogelberg Western Cape 18 11 2015
Elattoneura frenulata Sooty Threadtail Female Kogelberg Western Cape 18 11 2015
Elattoneura frenulata Sooty Threadtail

Family Platycnemididae    (Yakobson & Bianchi, 1905)

Short description:

Sooty Threadtail, Elattoneura frenulata  Roetswartdraadstertjie is small sized, distinctly blackish damselfly with blackish upper parts, with a greyish tip to a very slender abdomen.

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Key identification features:


  • Black face with strong black hairs. Head black from above, developing pruinescence with age
  • Eyes black above, bluish grey below
  • Thorax black above, greyish buff below;appears striped with pruinescence in old males.
  • Clear wings, with dark brown pterostigmas with fine light brown borders.
  • Abdomen black above and light brown below. Segments 9 and 10 light grey, pruinescent


  • Males occurring at high elevations of the Cederberg have a tendency to be blue rather than black, especially top of the head and thorax.


  • Slightly larger, slightly larger, more robust than male, overall dark brown, thorax faintly striped light and dark brown.
Compared with other species:
  • Vaguely similar to young Pseudagrion draconis (Mountain Sprite) but smaller and lacking the postocular spots.
Distribution and habitat:

Elattoneura frenulata Sooty Threadtail Distribution Map June 2020Sooty Threadtail,   Elattoneura frenulata    Roetswartdraadstertjie.   Flag of South Africa.svg  is endemic to the montane areas of the Western and
Eastern Cape.. Localised, although common in places.
Favours tall grasses of clear sluggish reaches of streams & rivers with well-vegetated banks. 
Inferred to occur from 0 to 1200 m above sea level, but mostly below 700.

  • Usually fairly well-hidden among the tall grasses and other vegetation, but can be seen cruising among them when disturbed.
  • Cruises & settles along the edges, perching low on plants and exposed rocks.
  • On the wing from November to May.
Further reading:

A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Least concern)
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 661790
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online


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