102 008 Male Klein Kariba 2016 09 26 102 012 Female Rust de Winter 2016 07 02 102 013 Ring Klein Kariba 016 09 26

Masai Sprite.    Masaigesie.

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Short Description:

Masai Sprite, Pseudagrion massaicum, Genus Pseudagrion (B–group), Family Coenagrionidae, is a small red headed damselfly with red thorax and coral red eyes. It has large reddish-brown dumbbell-shaped postocular spots and orange on the side of the thorax. The abdominal tip is bright blue.

Key identification features:

Male

  • Deep orange face and orange labrum.
  • Top of the head is a black transverse band. It has large bright reddish-brown dumbbell-shaped postocular spots linked by a reddish brown bar
  • Eyes are orange red to coral red in front with some black behind.
  • Synthorax is mostly deep orange-red. Middorsal stripe of the synthorax is black with broad orange-red antihumeral stripes. Black humeral stripe has with little notch near the wing base. Sides of the synthorax are orange or orange-brown. Thorax below is buff (young) or heavily pruinescent (old) Between bases of the wing is light blue pruinescent.
  • Wings are clear and the pterostigmas are purplish brown.
  • Dorsal side of abdomen is mostly black, below it is green, with incomplete yellowish green rings at the start of each segment. There is a black Y- pattern on S2. The discontinuous black dorsal line of segment 3 - S7 forms torpedo-markings on top of the abdomen. S8 and S9 are sky blue with small black dorsal marking and the end of each segment. S10 is black above and blue below.

Female

  • Buff to light greenish brown with same markings on thorax as male.
  • Lower part of eye is buff with double darker brown stripes on the upper half of the eye.
  • Abdomen is buff below with black markings on top. Black rings between segments S8 and S9. Blue marking on top of S9 and S10.
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:
  • In southern Africa, this species is widespread all over the region. Globally, it has been recorded from South Africa (Cape), north to Somalia, and west to Ghana.
  • Frequents Standing and probably often temporary waters, as well as rivers, streams and possibly large lakes, in open landscapes. Often with emergent and aquatic vegetation, in streams probably especially at pools.
  • From 0 to 2000 m above sea level, but mostly below 1700
Behaviour:
  • Perch horizontally on plant stems and floating vegetation. Sometimes skimming across the water surface from one lily or grass stem to the next.
Further reading:
Books
Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa .. p. 88
Dragonfly Biotic Index .. p. 80
A guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa .. p. 80
Websites of Interest
Odonata Atlas of Africa - VMU Number 663820
African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
The IUCN red list of Threatned Species (Least Concern)
Warwick Tarboton

A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
 Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram
Dragonflies, Damselflies
Morphology of a
Dragonfly,  Damselfly
Map of South Africa

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