Cape Thorntail, Ceratogomphus triceraticus Kaapse Doringstert

From the cape
Thorntail Male
103 506 Ceratogomphus triceraticus Cape thorntail 1

Short description:

Cape Thorntail, Ceratogomphus triceraticus  Kaapse Doringstert is large sized, dark brown, with some deep yellow markings and large foliations on segment 8.

Family Gomphidae     (Rambur, 1842)

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Key identification features:


  • Face dull yellow.Face dull yellow. Labrum yellow with central black line that joins two black spots. Anteclypeus greyish yellow. ostclypeus yellow, bordered above and below with two brownish black lines that run across and touch in the middle. Frons brownish yellow. Head black above, back of head brownish yellow.
  • Eyes dark grey.
  • Thorax with narrow deep yellow and wide brown stripes with pruinescence along sutures.
  • Wings faintly greenish. Pterostigmas of medium length (4 mm), black.
  • Abdomen alternately deep brown and deep yellow. Large foliations on segment 8 dull yellow in center with wide blackish brown margin and some pruinescence. Segment 10 with large, robust, forward-pointing dorsal spine with dark brown tip. Superior appendages with wide, robust,outward-pointing spines.


  • Female similar but brighter. Foliations on segment 8 small.
  • Streams in open landscapes or open areas in forest. Especially calm sections (like pools) with coarse detritus, often with rocks and a gravelly and/or sandy bottom
  • Inferred to occur from 0 to 1100 m above sea level.
  • Flies low over bushes. A strong flier that perches on the ground or low vegetation.
Compared with other species:
  • Larger size and overall darker than Ceratogomphus pictus (Common Thorntail) which is more yellow.
  • Black markings on thorax, abdomen and foliation is considerably darker than C. pictus.
Visual similar species
Related Species 

100 1494 Ceratogomphus pictus Common Thorntail Male Hertzogberg MP RSA Nov 2017r 4
Common Thorntail
Ceratogomphus pictus








Distribution Map May 2020Distribution Map
South Africa
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South Africa
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South Africa
Ceratogomphus triceraticus Cape Thorntail Africa Distribution Map Aug 20212021Distribution Map
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South Africa:

  • Endemic to South Africa and restricted to the Southern Cape. 
Further reading: