Genus Umma Kirby, 1890

Type species: Cleis cincta Hagen in Selys, 1853


Endemic to the continent’s tropics with ten species. Future studies may find Umma to be a synonym of Sapho, the latter having priority. They are large (hindwing 26-38 mm) with deep metallic (blue) green bodies and glistening wings, confined to generally forested streams. In most areas only one species occurs, e.g. U. electa in gallery (and sometimes open) streams on both sides of the Congo-Zambezi watershed and U. declivium in the Eastern Arc Mts. In Central Africa three species overlap: U. longistigma inhabits large and more sandy streams, U. mesostigma and U. saphirina (that may well be synonymous) small and more gravelly ones, while the scarcer U. cincta has intermediate habits. The latter, however, is the only Umma species in West Africa. A robust form that occurs alongside U. longstigma was recently found to represent the distinct species U. gumma, although their range and habitat appear similar. The ecology of the Angola endemic U. femina is not known well, nor is that of U. mesumbei and U. purpurea which are restricted largely to Cameroon. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Like other calopterygid genera is separated from other damselflies by (a) face not swollen; (b) 3 or more Ax; (c) arculus halfway between base and node, or more proximal; (d) quadrilateral with 5-9 cross-veins; (e) Abd slender, reaches well beyond wing tips. However, differs from Phaon by (1) labium all black in stead of pale; (2) humeral and interpleural sutures enclosed in metallic areas, at most with pale traces; (3) Fw discoidal field 1 row only well proximal to node, 15-25 cells wide on wing border; (4) base of anal vein directed towards wing base. The wings are always clear, unlike most Sapho species (see that genus for further details). [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

Umma electa Longfield, 1933. 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.


  • Pinhey, E. (1969). On the genus Umma Kirby (Odonata). Arnoldia Rhodesia, 4, 1-11. [PDF file]
  • Vick, G.S. (1996). Umma mesumbei spec. nov., with records of some other dragonfly species from the south-west Province of Cameroon (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica, 25, 167-178. [PDF file]
  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B. (in prep.) Odonata of the Congo: checklist, bibliography, gazetteer, new records, species descriptions, and taxonomic notes with an emphasis on Elattoneura, Mesocnemis and Congothemis. Zoologische Mededelingen. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies (Odonata) of Central Africa. Occasional Papers Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 14, 1-97. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1967). Odonata Zygoptera. Exploration Hydrobiologique Bassin Lac Bangweolo Luapula, 14, 1-43. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-05-30].