Elegant Malachite    Elegante Malagiet    Africa

Family Synlestidae Tillyard, 1917
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Short description:

Large to very large damselfly, dark metallic green and brown, usually with clear wings, but sometimes banded.

Key identification features:


  • Length 56 - 59 - 63 mm ♂; 51 -52 - 53 mm ♀;wingspan 66-69-71 mm ♂;
  • Face dark metallic green with pale yellow central area. Head dark metallic green above.
  • Eyes greenish black above, greyish black below. 
  • Thorax metallic green and bordered with dark yellow stripe from above, striped dull metallic green and yellow from side, underside dull straw colour with three distinct dark brown marks that look like a frowning human mask. In South Africa, wings clear in most males, some with indistinct black and white banding. Pterostigmas mostly blackish brown, outer sections tend to be lighter.
  • Abdomen dull metallic green with indistinct yellow rings at start of each segment.Segments 9 and 10 pruinescent greyish blue.


  • Similar to male, although with very little or no pruinescence on segments 9 and 10.Female
Compared with other species:

Distribution and habitat:
  • Localised species recorded only from streams above 1 200 m elevation in the Magoebaskloof area. Found in localised areas of the highlands of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.
  • It favours montane streams and small rivers with pools and clearings in well forested areas.
  • Mostly seen at rest with outstretched wings, hanging from vegetation in sunflecks in the forest
Further reading:
http://vmus.adu.org.za/vm_map_afr.php?&database=odonata&grid=2&outline=1&key=0&map=4&spp=660110 Books
A Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa    p. 36
Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa   p. 53
Dragonfly Biotic Index   p. 45
Websites of interest:
Warwick Tarboton
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species   Least Concern
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 660110
Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram Dragonflies, Damselflies
Morphology of a
Dragonfly or Damselfly
Map of South Africa

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



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