Friday 17 May
Marbled malachite (Ecchlorolestes peringueyi)
Marbled malachite fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Marbled malachite description
This large damselfly earns its common name for its dark metallic, cryptic colouration (2), which perfectly camouflages it against the mottled, lichen-covered boulders upon which it habitually sits (3). The body is primarily black, but features brown markings along the long, slender abdomen, particularly at the joints between segments, and there is bluish, slate-grey colouring at the tip.Top
Marbled malachite biology
Virtually nothing is known of the marbled malachite’s reproductive biology, life history patterns or feeding behaviour. Nevertheless, there are general biological characteristics of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) that are likely to apply. Odonata species start their life as aquatic larvae or nymphs, passing through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’ and undergoing several moults as they grow. This larval period can last anything between three months and ten years, depending upon the species. Before the final moult (emergence), metamorphosis occurs in which the larvae transform into the adult form. After emergence, adults undergo a pre-reproductive phase known as the maturation period, and this is when individuals normally develop their full adult colour. Odonata usually feed on flying insects and are generalised, opportunistic feeders, often congregating around abundant prey sources such as swarms of termites or near beehives (5).
There is often fierce competition between males for access to reproductive females, and females typically begin to lay eggs in water immediately after copulation, often guarded by their mate. However, females of some species can store live sperm in their body for a number of days (5).Top
Marbled malachite rangeTop
Marbled malachite habitat
The marbled malachite is found along clear, shallow streams with an abundance of large, lichen-covered boulders. Two populations exist at high elevation locations over 1,000 metres above sea level, while a third population is at 400 metres above sea level (1).Top
Marbled malachite status
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Marbled malachite threats
Being a habitat specialist, this damselfly was probably never particularly widespread or abundant, but early records nevertheless reveal that it was once found at many more localities than it is today. Despite historical declines, however, the current population appears to be stable, both in range and size, and habitat destruction, mostly for plantation forestry, has largely subsided. Even so, the species remains vulnerable to several threats that have the potential to impact dramatically on such small and specialised populations (1). In particular, alien invasive trees, which shade out the habitat, are considered one of the most pervasive and significant threats facing specialised, endemic South African dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) (3). Introduced trout are also present in a number of South African rivers, and pose a serious threat to endemic dragonflies and damselflies through predation (1).Top
Marbled malachite conservation
Fortunately, the marbled malachite occurs within protected areas. Additionally, a massive national rehabilitation programme (Working with Water Programme) began in 1995 with the aim of eradicating invasive alien plants in South Africa. The programme has been a fantastic success story, with other dragonflies and damselflies (e.g. harlequin sprite Pseudagrion newtoni) that were presumed to be extinct being rediscovered along river stretches where invasive alien trees were removed and the natural vegetation re-established (6). The programme has also greatly benefited the marbled malachite (3), but it is imperative that there is no further encroachment of plantation forestry (1). It is also important that populations are regularly monitored to ensure that they are remaining stable (1). However, for the time being at least, this enigmatic damselfly is thought relatively safe from the threat of extinction.Top
Authenticated (12/07/2006) by Professor Michael Samways, Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology and Centre for Agricultural Biodiversity, Stellenbosch University.
- Cryptic colouration
- Colouring that camouflages or disguises a species.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
- IUCN Red List (October, 2008)
- Inland Invertebrate Initiative: Database of Threatened Invertebrates of South Africa (July, 2006)
- Samways, M. (2006) Astonishing Recovery of Rare and threatened Dragonflies. Faculty of AgriSciences Newsletter (University of Stellenbosch), 27: 1 - 2. Available at:
- Samways, M. (2006) Pers. comm.
- O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Samways, M.J., Taylor, S. and Tarboton, W. (2005) Extinction Reprieve Following Alien Removal. Conservation Biology, 19(4): 1329 - 1330.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.