Nubian sprite (Pseudagrion nubicum)

Nubian sprite male, perched on leaf
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Nubian sprite fact file

Nubian sprite description

GenusPseudagrion (1)

The Nubian sprite (Pseudagrion nubicum) is a member of the genus Pseudagrion, the largest damselfly genus in Africa, with almost 100 species occurring across the continent (2). Members of this genus are split into two groups (1), with the Nubian sprite belonging to a group distinguished by their pale colouration and the thin black markings running along their bodies. The appearance of Pseudagrion species can be highly variable, with some individuals appearing mostly black and others bearing the characteristic colouration of the genus (2).

The wings of Pseudagrion species do not have long stems and the pterostigmas (the dark coloured cells near the tips of the wings) are very small. The legs of this species have hooks on the ends (3). In all damselfly and dragonfly species, the wings of juveniles have a glass-like sheen (4).

Pseudagrion tricorne, Pseudagrion tricornis.

Nubian sprite biology

Very little is known about the breeding behaviour or diet of the Nubian sprite, although it is likely to reproduce similarly to other damselfly species. Female damselflies usually lay eggs into plant material at the surface of a water body immediately after copulation, although the female may be able to store live sperm within the body for many days. As with other dragonflies and damselflies, it is likely that the Nubian sprite begins life as an aquatic larva, which gradually passes through stages known as ‘stadia’, until it eventually reaches a stage where it moults and metamorphoses into its adult form (4).

The diet of this damselfly is likely to consist mainly of small flying insects. As opportunistic predators, many damselfly species are known to congregate where food is plentiful, such as around termite nests or beehives. The larvae of damselflies are voracious predators and are armed with formidable mouthparts, which can be extended in under 25 milliseconds (4).


Nubian sprite range

The Nubian sprite is widespread throughout Africa, where it is found from Zimbabwe and Namibia in the south, to Egypt in the north, Sierra Leone in the west and Kenya in the east (1) (5).


Nubian sprite habitat

The Nubian sprite generally inhabits the areas surrounding lakes, rivers, brooks and oases, where there are plentiful reeds and either running or standing water (1) (2). This species is mostly found at low altitudes (2).


Nubian sprite status

The Nubian sprite is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1), and Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Mediterranean Red List (2).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Nubian sprite threats

The Nubian sprite is threatened by the removal of water from its habitat for irrigation purposes, as well as by droughts (1). The destruction of its habitat due to urbanisation, water pollution and poor water management are also threatening this species (1) (5), and may lead to local extinctions in some areas (5).


Nubian sprite conservation

Increasing awareness of the effects of water pollution and other pressures on aquatic habitats may be important in the conservation of the Nubian sprite, while actions to improve its habitat would also be beneficial. More research needs to be done to assess the population, range, threats and ecology of this species so that appropriate and adequate conservation measures can be implemented (1).


Find out more

Find out more about the conservation of dragonflies and damselflies:



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A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Immature stage in an animal’s lifecycle, after it hatches from an egg and before it changes into the adult form. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but are usually unable to reproduce.
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
In insects, a stage of growth whereby the hard outer layer of the body (the exoskeleton) is shed and the body becomes larger.


  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2012)
  2. Dijkstra, K.D.B., Groeneveld, L.F., Clausnitzer, V. and Hadrys, H. (2007) The Pseudagrion split: molecular phylogeny confirms the morphological and ecological dichotomy of Africa’s most diverse genus of Odonata (Coenagrionidae). International Journal of Odonatology, 10: 31-41.
  3. Silsby, J. (2001) Dragonflies of the World. Csiro Publishing, Australia.
  4. O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Boudot, J.P. (April, 2012) Pers. comm.

Image credit

Nubian sprite male, perched on leaf  
Nubian sprite male, perched on leaf

© Jean-Pierre Boudot

Jean-Pierre Boudot
Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I
Faculté des Sciences
Boulevard des Aiguillettes
BP 239
Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy Cedex


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