Chlorolestes elegans

Common Name:
Elegant Malachite
C. elegans
Species Description
Chlorolestes elegans (Pinhey, 1950), the Elegant Malachite, is a species of damselfly in family Synlestidae. This is a large to very large damselfly, with body length 60-61mm, hindwing length 31.5-32mm, color dark metallic green and brown, usually with clear wings but sometimes banded.

The face is dark metallic green with pale yellow genae, head all dark metallic green above. Eyes are greenish black above, greyish black below. Synthorax is metallic green above, bordered each side with dark yellow stripe. Side of synthorax striped dull metallic green and yellow. Below the yellow stripe is a greenish balck, wedge-shaped patch which blends into greyish straw underside. Synthorax underneath like frowning human mask, with three very clear dark brown marks in a triangle. Wings in almost males are clear, althrough some with black and white banding. Pterostgmas mostly blackish-brown, with only a little lighter brown in outer parts in some individuals. Abdomen is dull metallic green with fuzzy-edged yellow rings at start of each segment, S9-S10 pruinescent greyish blue. Female is si,iliar to male, but no or very little pruinescence on S9-10.

The species are mostly at rest with wings outstretched, hanging from teigs in sunflecks in forest. When in shade, very well camouflaged. Perferred habitat are shallow, montane streams with riffles and glides in forest. Flight period from late November to April.

The species has been recorded from north South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi (Mt Mulanje), northern Mozambique. It is a southern African endemic. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montanes and rivers. It is threatened by habitat loss.

IUCN Red List Category & Criteria as Near Threatened, in view of its restricted area (extent of occurrence approximately 5,000 km2), habitat requirements (montane mountain streams) and localized distribution (e.g., Samways 1999). Threats include commercial forestry, some invasive trees (especially acacias), introduced fish species (trout), habitat loss, and siltation of streams in montane areas (Samways pers. comm.). i.e. loss of native trees and reafforestation with introduce species. 

This very large species has metallic green occiput and labrum, which are yellow and black respectively in Chlorolestes conspicuus. C. elegans is like a large, clear-winged C. tessellatus. Apart from its large size and the mask marking under the thorax of C. elegans, no color features clearly separate these two species, meaning that margin of S10 and appendages must be compared. For female, length is 6-7 mm greater (60-61 mm) in C. elegans than C. fasciatus and C. tessellatus, both of which can occur in the same locality.

Dragonflies and Demsleflies of South Africa, Michael J. Samways
The Species on Stamps


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