Genus Syncordulia Selys, 1882


  • scientific: Presba Barnard, 1933 [venator]

Type species: Epophthalmia gracilis Burmeister, 1839


Restricted to South Africa, all four species occur in the Western Cape, one extending just into the south-western Eastern Cape and one to the Drakensberg. Adults are very furtive over water, typically inspecting stream pools rapidly and dashing off again, but may perch in low vegetation some distance from the water. Indeed two of four species were only recognized in 2007. Larvae have proven even harder to find and ecological differences between species are unclear. S. legator and S. serendipator have short flight seasons in early and late summer respectively. S. gracilis and S. venator fly longer, with the latter favouring relatively woody streams. Despite the similarities, the medium-sized (hindwing 27-33 mm) adults are morphologically very distinct, almost as three different genera, implying long isolation in Africa’s southernmost corner. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


The only genus with ‘corduliid’ features in the region, where its venation is unique: (1) Fw with 7-10 Ax and 5-8 Px; (2) sectors of arculus not fused; (3) Fw with one, Hw with two Cux; (4) triangles, subtriangles and supratriangles in all wings uncrossed, save occasional exceptions; (5) Fw discoidal field of single cell-row at base; (6) Hw arculus distinctly proximal of triangle; (7) anal loop bow-shaped, with 6-11 cells in males and 9-14 in females. A notable feature of all species is that the eyes are bluish grey, whereas they are typically bright green in the superficially similar Corduliidae and Macromiidae.

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.


  • Barnard, K.H. (1933). A new genus of corduliine dragonfly from South Africa (Odonata). Stylops, 2, 165-168. [PDF file]
  • Lieftinck, M.A. (1961). Notes on the affinity and nomenclature of some Old World Corduliidae (Odonata). I. The genera Syncordulia Selys, Presba Barnard, and Micromidia Fraser. II. The genera Metaphya Laidlaw and Anacordulia Tillyard. Proceedings Koninklijke Academie van Wetenschappen, 63, 410-423.
  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B., Samways, M.J., and Simaika, J. (2007). Two new relict Syncordulia species found during museum and field studies of Red Listed dragonflies in the Cape Floristic Region (Odonata, Corduliidae). Zootaxa, 1467, 19–34. [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. [2024-07-21].