Tetrathemis polleni (Selys, 1869)
Black-splashed Elf

Type locality: Kasenyi, Lake Albert, Uganda


Male is similar to other Tetrathemis species by (a) dorsum of frons shiny black rather than pale; (b) Fw discoidal field of 1 row to beyond node; (c) Fw triangle appears quadrangular rather than three-sided; (d) vein separating Fw cubital space and subtriangle in line with cross-vein in supratriangle; (e) 2 Cux in Hw. However, T. polleni is set apart from the rest by (1) being widespread and occurring largely outside forested centre of Africa; (2) thorax and Abd pruinose and wings broadly dark brown with maturity; (3) when not obscured by pruinosity, interpleural stripe runs above metastigma, obliquely between metapleural and humeral stripes; (4) arculus usually proximal to Ax2; (5) Hw supratriangles without cross-vein; (6) bridge spaces with 1-2 cross-veins.

Habitat description

Standing and mostly temporary waters, but possibly also streams, shaded by gallery forest, but sometimes also in open areas in forest. Often pools in stream beds, usually with overhanging branches and coarse detritus, and often a soft (like muddy) bottom. From 0 to 1600 m above sea level, but mostly below 200.


confirmed: Angola; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Republic of South Africa; Somalia; Tanzania; Uganda; Zimbabwe; NOT confirmed: Zambia

Male © Warwick Tarboton

Appendages (dorsal view)

Appendages (lateral view)

Abdominal segment 2 (lateral view)

Thorax (lateral view)

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.

Barcode specimen(s):

Copula; Tanzania, Kigoma Region, Lower Malagarasi Basin © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Tanzania, Tanga Region, East Usambara Mts © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Tanzania, Tanga Region, East Usambara Mts © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.


  • de Sélys-Longchamps, E. (1869). Énumeration des odonates de Madagascar et des iles Comores et Mascareignes in Recherches sur la faune de Madagascar et des ses d´ependances, d'apr`es les d´ecouvertes de Francois P.L. Pollen et D.C. van Dam. 5me partie, 1r
  • Balinsky, B.I. (1961). Observations on the dragonfly fauna of the coastal region of Zululand, with descriptions of three new species (Odonata). Journal Entomological Society Southern Africa, 24, 72-91. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1966). Check-list of dragonflies (Odonata) from Malawi, with description of a new Teinobasis Kirby. Arnoldia, 2, 1-24. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1966). Notes on African Odonata, particularly type material. Revue Zoologie Botanique Africaines, 73, 283-308. [PDF file]
  • Fraser, F.C. (1954). Further notes and descriptions of new species of Libellulidae from tropical Africa. Revue Zoologie Botanique Africaines, 50, 252-268. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. http://addo.adu.org.za/ [2024-05-27].