The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Black-splashed Elf dragonfly

Afrikaans name: Swartspikkeldwergie

Black-splashed Elf

Black-splashed Elf dragonfly

Photo © Steven Herbert

Tetrathemis polleni

The Black-splashed Elf is fairly common along the eastern regions of South Africa, from the Eastern Cape through to Limpopo. It is also found up to the tropical regions of Africa and in Madagascar.

This dragonfly is just over 3 cm in length and has a wingspan of around 6 cm. Males are blue and normally have the black bars in their wings. Females are greenish-yellow and black and are similar to females of other species of dragonflies. They have beautiful greenish-blue eyes.

The Black-splashed Elf is found near streams as well as stretches of calm water. They normally perch on twigs or vegetation in a shady spot over the water. The tend to be most common near temporary bodies of water that have muddy bottoms. They preferred habitat is at lower altitudes and they do not occur above 1,600 metres.

Females search for dominant males in an area and mate with them. The eggs are laid on a twig above the water.

References and further reading

A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa - Author: Warwick and Michele Tarboton - Published: 2015 - Page: 168

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