Drakensberg Malachite. Drakensbergmalagiet.
Family Synlestidae Tillyard, 1917 True Malachites
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Key identification features:
- Face is a bright metallic green with central yellow band. Head is metallic green from above.
- Eyes are dark brown above, bluish grey below.
- Thorax is bright metallic green with narrow, distinctive yellow stripe along the top edge, meeting in a V-shape on neck; sides striped yellow and metallic green and below with whitish pruinescence In side view the upper stripes of the thorax is yellow as is displaced where it crosses the suture. The lower stripe is yellow curving up towards the rear and it has a brown intrusion crossing at this position. The area between wing bases is yellow, forming an indistinct central stripe.
- Wings are clear.
- Pterostigmas are creamish to light brown outside, light brown to black inside depending on age.
- Abdomen is dull metallic green with fine yellow rings at start of each segment, fine but distinctive yellow line at top. Segments 9 and 10 are pruinescent whitish grey.
- Female similar to male, with bicoloured pterostigmas, only slight pruinescence on segment 10.
Similarities with other species:
- The only other species high in the Drakensberg is the Mountain Malachite, Chlorolestes fasciatus, which has banded wings but rarely reaches 1800 m a.s.l. in north eastern of Drakensberg.
- C. draconicus distinguished from clear-winged C. fasciatus by its finely marked, yellow 'V' on thorax, and fine yellow spots between wing bases (green, brown, black with pruinescence in C. fasciatus).
- In side view the thorax upper yellow stripe of C. fasciatus is thin and straight, disappearing before it reaches the wing bases. The lower stripe is uniformly broad and all-yellow.
- C. draconicus has a fine, dorsal yellow line along abdomen, which C. fasciatus does not have
- These two species can be confused, so it is essential to compare appendages. The superior appendages in side view are almost straight in C. draconicus but distinctly down curved in C. fasciatus . The tips of the spine of the inferior appendages of C. draconicus are hardly visible, while in C. fasciatus it makes a distinct fork
Distribution and habitat:
- Endemic to the Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa
- Small, high montane streams with boulders and pools, with tall grasses, reeds and bushes over water. From 1500 to 1900 m above sea level, but mostly above 1700 and possibly up to 3300.
- Mostly at rest with wings outstretched, hanging onto stems or twigs over water. Makes occasional brief flights to catch prey or move perches.
Credit to Michael J. Samways & John P. Simaika Manual of Freshwater Assessment for South Africa: Dragonfly Biotic Index