Family Gomphidae Rambur, 1842

Distribution Worldwide

  • Almost 90 genera and 1000 species are known, making it the second largest anisopteran family. Largest is Libellulidae

Distribution in Africa and surrounding Islands

  • About a sixth of this diversity is Afrotropical
  • 11 genera, 17 species in South Africa

General identification features

  • Coloured in combinations of green, brown, yellow, and black
  • All species have very distinctive markings on lateral and dorsal thorax.
  • Only  Dragonfly (anisopterans) with eyes widely separated by a ridge-like occiput, rather than in contact.
  • Most species have enlarged foliations on terminal abdominal segments.
  • Ax veins asymmetrical, not meeting on subcostal vein.
  • Discoidal cell (forewing) and DC (hindwing)

Habitat and behaviour:

  • Most species inhabit rivers and streams, where adults can be elusive and furtive, while larvae are easier to find.
  • Generally quite specific habitat preferences and in the sites they perch for hunting and/or courting
  • Perches mostly on rocks, tops of branches (sometimes high but open in trees) or grass stems in open or forest areas
  • Images ordered in alphabetical by scientific names
  • Only males are shown except for Zambezi Siphontail, Neurogomphus zambeziensi .Too view images of female please follow the ling provided by clicking on the image to the description page 
  • To view females follow the menu links to the species description page 
  • Click on images links to the species detail page
Identification guide

Click HERE for an identification guide for Clubtails based on images of the thorax

Images of southern African Clubtails