Family Coenagrionidae Kirby, 1890
pond damsels


  • scientific: Pseudostigmatidae Kirby, 1890; Coryphagrionidae Pinhey, 1962; Protoneuridae Yakobson & Bianchi, 1905 (in part)


Over 110 genera and 1250 species form the largest radiation in Odonata together with Libelluloidea. Because most species inhabit standing water they are known as pond damselflies, although Oreocnemis and many Pseudagrion species breed in running water. Genetic research shows that the radiation has two main groups, which may be recognised as families in the future. The true coenagrionids make up just over half of this diversity worldwide, but six in every seven species in the Afrotropics. Here only Ceriagrion, Coryphagrion, Oreocnemis and Teinobasis belong to the second group, which is recognised by the absence of postocular spots and the presence (except in Oreocnemis) of a transverse ridge on the frons. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


No diagnosis of this diverse family is presently available and the genera are best distinguished by considering both it and the Platycnemididae, together forming the superfamily Coenagrionoidea.

Pseudagrion (B) sjoestedti Förster, 1906. Male (very red) © Jens Kipping

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.

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