Common Hooktail. Gewone Hakiestert
Paragomphus genei (Selys, 1841)
Previously called Green Hooktail.
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Common Hooktail, Paragomphus genei, Genus Paragomphus, Family Gomphidae, medium-sized, with green head and thorax, and yellow and dark brown abdomen with reddish brown club, that freqents wet, gravel
beaches of savanna rivers.
Key identification features:
- Face is mostly light green. Labrum, anteclypeus, postclypeus and entire frons is bright green with some brown smudging. Head brown with spots above, green at back.
- Eyes are dark greenish brown.
- Thorax is bright green with two smudgy dark brown stripes. Dorsal thorax makings are green with well smudged greenish brown stripes (indistinct). Dorsal thorax pattern faded brown markings The thorax dark brownish markings are sharp, clearly delimiting pale postdorsal and antehumeral stripes.
- Wings clear to slightly greenish smoky. Pterostigmas black with central light brow/green stripes, 3 mm long.
- Abdomen segments 1 - 3 is green, blackish brown and a little yellow. S 2 has distinct "U" shaped pattern in lateral view. . S 1 - 7 with yellow and blackish brown partial rings. First half of Segment 7 is bright yellow, second half dark brown. S 8 - 10 is dark brown with some faint yellow blotches, giving a reddish appearance. Foliations on S 8 large relative to small foliages on s 9, S 9 longer than s10. S10 in dorsal view has two (2) (almost blended into one (1) small yellow dots either side of the dorsal carina
- Superior appendages conspicuously yellowish, fairly long, curved. Superior twice as long as inferior. Inferior appendages curved upwards, blackish.
- Similar to male but the body markings is less distinctive
- May have blue in the lower eye.
- Dorsal thorax pattern is green with indistinct faded brown stripes (contrary to male markings).
- Wings Smokey. Pterostigmas black with central light brow/green stripes, 3 mm long
- Abdomen is stout. S 2 has narrow anchor shape (crescent shaped) pattern in lateral view. This is Diagnostic for this species female. S 7 hind opproximate 1/3 dark brown, front yellow. Foliations virtually absent. Upper claspers thin, yellow becoming dark towards the tip.
Compared with other species:
- In arias P. genei cohabitate with Corkscrew Hooktail, Paragomphus elpidius. These to species are difficult to differentiate in the field.
- Cerci (claspers) on P. elpidius (Corkscrew Hooktail) are thicker (less slender), apex blunt, without or with one tooth, without distinct ventral ridge. Epiproct is about 1/3 as long as cerci and not curving upwards. Tips of Cerci (upper claspers) tend to curve in towards S 10.
- Cerci on P. genei (Common Hooktail)have dark tips. Thorax has dark brownish markings that is sharp , clearly delimiting pale postdorsal and antehumeral stripes. Rear thorax strip in p. elpidius forms a "Y" shape fork towards the front thorax stripe.
- Brownish postdorsal and antihumeral stripes on P. genei tend to be undefined almost smudged.
- S 7 on P. elpidius is yellow in first half and brown in second. On P. genei s 7 is bright yellow, first 2/3, ending in well-defined pattern with dark brown hind 1/3. P. cognatis has broun lateral stipe (diagnistic). P. elpidius s 7 is bright yellow, first 1/2, ending in well-defined pattern with dark brown hind half.
- P. Genei has small club (s 8 large with s 9 small). P cognatus (Rock Hooktail) small yellow with dark lower edge. P. elpidius has very large club and foliages.
- P. genei S 10 has distinctive yellow spot around the dorsal carina.
- In lateral view dorsal thorax pattern of P genei has faded brown stripes compared with the well-defined stripes of P. elpidius.
- S2 on P. genei has a clear narrow anchor shape marking. P. elpidius. a "C".pattern with the inside of the "C" brown touching s 1. P. cognatis has a square yellow/green pattern with a brown square inside pattern that ma open to s 3.
- S 10 on P. elpidius same lengths as s 9 but much shorter on P. genei.
- P. Genei has small club (s 7 large with s 8 almost nonexistent)
Distribution and habitat:
- Recorded from the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape, but abundant records from KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga Gauteng and Limpopo Province
- It occurs along moist, gravel or sandy shores of savanna rivers, occasionally on the exposed shores of pools and dams, and temporary waters. This is one of the few Gomphidae that is able to complete larval development in less than a year (about two months). It is assumed to be multivoltine (more than one broods per year). The species often has enormous larval populations of up to 100 individuals per square m in perennial sections of ephemeral rivers. But also large populations e.g., in lower Orange and lower Kunene River.
It perches with its abdomen raised at a slight angle at the water’s edge, darts off rapidly but returns again to the shore.
Further reading and other information: