Orange Wisp     Agriocnemis ruberrima       Oranjesoetjie

100 514 Wisp Male Kozi Bay KZN Mch 2017r 1

100 515 Male Kozi Bay KZN Mch 2017r 2

107 009 Agriocnemis ruberrima Orange Wisp Male Bwabwata National Park Kongola Namibia Jan 2020r 1

Family Coenagrionidae Kirby, 1890

 Short Description:

Orange Wisp Agriocnemis ruberrima Oranjesoetjie is minute with a dark thorax and orange abdomen.

Species information

Some literature divide Agriocnemis ruberrima in two sub species. DNA testing must yet prove that there is sufficient differences between these two subspecies to be able to split it en two,species. or before this may be regarded as two colour variation.

  • Agriocnemis ruberrima ruberrima (ruberrima form)100 514 Agriocnemis ruberrima Orange Wisp Male Kozi Bay KZN Mch 2017r 1
  • Agriocnemis ruberrima albifrons, (albifrons form)107 009 Agriocnemis ruberrima Orange Wisp Male Bwabwata National Park Kongola Namibia Jan 2020r 1
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100 514 Agriocnemis ruberrima Orange Wisp Male Kozi Bay KZN Mch 2017r 1Image Gallery










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Short Description:

Minute with a dark thorax and orange abdomen.

Key identification features:


Orange Wisp Agriocnemis ruberrima Ruberrima form 

  • Face mostly black with finely divided lime green moustache. Labrum glossy black with slight metallic sheen,edged in lime green. Anteclypeus light green and light brown. Postclypeus glossy black with slight metallic bluish green sheen. Lower part of frons forms a lime green moustache, finely divided by black vertical stripe. Head velvety black above with bronze sheen. Postocular spots small, oval,sharp-edged and bright bluish green.
  • Eyes are black above, bright green below. Neck velvety black with bluish green markings and fine yellowish hind margin.
  • Thorax shiny, velvety black with fine green shoulder stripes. Hind lobe of prothorax incised at two sides, separating fan-like middle section
  • Wings clear. Pterostigmas dark muddy brown, slightly lighter at edges, with no distinct border.
  • Abdomen segments 1 - 2 shiny black above, lime green below, with the lime green portion flowing from the lower thorax. First quarter of segment 3 black above, lime green below,orange for remainder of the segment. Segments 4 - 10 orange. Apex S10 distinctly raised. Appendages orange with black tips. Cerci with sharp triangular ventral process directed somewhat into S10. Paraprocts almost as long as cerci, tapering to pointed apex (lateral view)

Orange Wisp Agriocnemis ruberrima Albifrons form: Agriocnemis ruberrima Orange Wisp Male Bwabwata National Park, Kongola, Namibia Jan 2020

  • The term albifrons translate from as Latin as With a white forehead relates to the conspicuous pruinous white frons of the males 
  • Abdomen segments 1 - 2 shiny black above, lime green below. Segment 3 - 6 black above, lime green below. Segment 7 black above with front margin below lime green becoming orange for remainder of the segment. Segments 8 with distinctive pattern in the shape of an " I " Segments 9 with a black triangle with apical top or an arrow..on the front margin. Segment 10 orange.Appendages orange with black tips being the same as Ruberrima form 
  • The abdomen markings may change with age.


  • Reddish brown with dark brown face, head blackish above, thorax dark brown above.
  • Abdomen dark brown above and buff below or all dull orange.
Additional Information:

Two forms exists. Agriocnemis ruberrima ruberrima (ruberrima form) occurs only in coastal northern KwaZulu-Natal. The second form (Agriocnemis ruberrima albifrons, or albifrons form) occurs in the Okavango swamps of Botswana. The current literature describes this as one species with possible colour variations

  • Standing and often temporary waters, swamps and large, shallow pans with an abundance of tall grass stems and well as rivers and flowing channels in marshes, in open landscapes. Usually with emergent and often aquatic vegetation.
  • From 900 to 1400 m above sea level, but down to sea level in South Africa.
  • Perches low down among the vegetation close to the water where it is camouflaged among the grass stems
Compared with other species:
  • Agriocnemis ruberrima is easily recognised by its mostly all orange abdomen when seen from above.
  • Agriocnemis pinheyi, A. exilis (Little Wisp), and  A. gratiosa (Gracious Wisp) are similar. 
  • A. pinheyi intermediate in size between the smaller A. exilis and the larger A. gratiosa.
  • A. gratiosa and A. pinheyi has postocular spots intermediate in size between the smaller ones of A. exilis, and the larger ones of A. gratiosa.
  • A. pinheyi has a fine, thorax shoulder stripe like A. exilis, but not the wider stripe of A. gratiosa
  • A. pinheyi  with unbroken light green moustache runs from eye to eye. Usually in A. exilis  but always in A. gratiosa it is broken by a black division
  • The dorsal, black, abdominal stripe of A. pinheyi tapers in S8 as it does in A. gratiosa and usually S7, but sometimes S8, in A. exilis.
  • A. pinheyi appendages are distinctive with a downward-pointing horn on the inferior appendages ending in a small, slightly upturned hook. Diagnostic

Distribution Map June 2020 Map










South Africa:

  • Botswana; Namibia; Republic of South Africa; Zambia


  • Northern KZN and Okavango swamps of Botswana with limited records from Northern Namibia and Zambisi.
Further reading:

Websites of interest

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species   ENDANGERED
Odonata Atlas of Africa - VMU Number 662540
African Dragonflies &Damselflies Online
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa

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