Genus Chlorolestes Selys, 1862
true malachites

Type species: Chlorolestes conspicuus Hagen in Selys, 1862


Endemic to Africa with seven species, breeding in pools of cool streams and rivers, e.g. in forest, montane grassland and lowland fynbos in the Cape. All species are confined to South Africa, except C. elegans that extends from the north of that country along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border to southern Malawi (Mt Mulanje) and northern Mozambique (Mt Namuli). Malachites are medium-sized to large (hindwing 19-37 mm) dark damselflies, often with a metallic (green) sheen and usually some yellow markings. Dark wing bands develop between the pterostigma and node in males of all species except C. conspicuus and C. draconicus, but all banded species can have clear-winged males whose frequency varies greatly. Whitish pruinosity develops on the abdomen tip of all species, on (parts of) the thorax in some, and as broad bands on the central wing in banded males. The genus is separated into two well-defined subgenera: Chlorolestes with plain pale brown pterostigmas is restricted to the Western and Eastern Cape with C. apricans, C. conspicuus and C. umbratus, while Euchlorolestes (the name is easily confused with that of the genus Ecchlorolestes) with two-toned to dark brown pterostigmas occurs mainly on the highveld and its escarpments with C. draconicus, C. elegans, C. fasciatus and C. tessellatus. The latter two species are very closely related and both high variable, making their separation difficult at time: C. fasciatus occur in more open and elevated sites than the forest species C. tessellatus. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


For the identification of this genus, please refer to: Tarboton, W. & Tarboton, M. 2015. A guide to the dragonflies (Odonata) of South Africa. Cape Town: Random House Struik.

Chlorolestes fasciatus (Burmeister, 1839). Male © Gerhard Diedericks

Map citation: Clausnitzer, V., K.-D.B. Dijkstra, R. Koch, J.-P. Boudot, W.R.T. Darwall, J. Kipping, B. Samraoui, M.J. Samways, J.P. Simaika & F. Suhling, 2012. Focus on African Freshwaters: hotspots of dragonfly diversity and conservation concern. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 129-134.


  • Pinhey, E. (1951). The dragonflies of southern Africa. Transvaal Museum Memoir 5, Transvaal Museum, Pretoria, 1-335. [PDF file]
  • Ris, F. (1921). The Odonata or Dragonflies of South Africa. Annals South African Museum, XVIII, 245-452. [PDF file]
  • Barnard, K.H. (1937). Notes on dragon-flies (Odonata) of the S. W. Cape with descriptions of the nymphs and of new species. Annals South African Museum, 32, 169-260. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-07-25].