Genus Spesbona Dijkstra, 2013

Type species: Platycnemis angusta Selys, 1863


Known currently from only one area near Cape Town, the small (hindwing 15-19 mm) S. angusta is one of Africa’s most unusual damselflies. The larva is unique with its horned head, spidery legs and frilled lamellae, as is the adult with its bulging posterior head border, acute pterostigmas and unique colour pattern. Hugging a bright surface (white sand, a dead stem) with their long legs, males rapidly turn from blackish brown through deep purple to bright violet blue as they warm up. The eggs are laid in aquatic plants close to the water surface; the larvae developing as pools filled by streams and rivers in winter dry up in summer. Despite its black slender legs, Spesbona is related most closely to Copera and especially Proplatycnemis of Pemba and Madagascar, probably representing the last survivor of an ancient African damselfly fauna in the continent’s southern extreme. [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.

Spesbona angusta (Selys, 1863). Male&female © Jens Kipping

Spesbona angusta (Selys, 1863). Male © 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. [2024-06-15].