100 944 Gynacantha usambarica Eastern Duskhawker Banga Neck Kosi Bay KZN RSA Mch 2017r 6118 507 Gynacantha usambarica Kosi Bay 1118 505 Gynacantha usambarica Amatikulu 1

Eastern Duskhawker.  Oostelike Skemerventer

Family Aeshnidae Leach, 1815

(Previously known as Usambara Duskhawker or Zulu Duskhawker)

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100 944 Gynacantha usambarica Eastern Duskhawker Banga Neck Kosi Bay KZN RSA Mch 2017r 6Images

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  • In southern Africa, this species is known from Mozambique and South Africa.
  • It was previously known as Gynacantha zuluensis. (Pinhey 1981, Tarbotaon and Tarboton 2002).
Short description:

Very large sized, slender and dark brown with blue and green spots between the wings.

Key identification features:


  • Frons with distinct black marking but no dots anterior to antennae
  • Eyes are bright green with an olive green face and nose.
  • Nose has a mushroom shaped mark above.
  • Thorax is dark olive green above becoming lighter green on the sides.  Legs uniformly pale, including tarsi and joint
  • Wings base clear. Smoky becoming darker with age. It has 21-27 Ax veins and 23-25 antenodal crossveins. Area between the wings is blue and green spotted
  • Abdomen is dark brown with blue to light brown markings at the segment splits.. Segments 1 - 2 are blue spotted. S1 with two U shaped saddle patterns with the openings facing to each other. S3 distinctly waisted near base Cerci of rather even width throughout


  •  similar with eyes darker, dark green replaces the blue markings of the male.
Compared with other species:
  • This species has blue abdominal spots but not as distinctive as the Evening Hawker, Anaciaeschna triangulifera.
  • It is larger than the Little Duskhawker G. manderica but smaller that the Brown Duskhawker, Gynacantha villosa. It has 21-27 antenodal crossveins, compared to 13-19 in G. Manderica but similar to the 22-28 of G. villosa. It differs from in having a more constricted waist and much more blade-like and terminally spinous superior appendages.
  • The Little Duskhawker G. manderica has a broadish black line “Eiffel tower” like marking above the nose
  • Refer to the reference books for more detail of the genital differences.
Distribution and habitat:

Gynacantha usambarica Eastern Duskhawker NewRecorded in northern KZN coastal forest. It may have a much wider range than currently known because it is
difficult to record because of its habits.
Globally, it occurs in coastal forest areas of eastern and southern Africa (Kenya to South Africa, Malawi).).
Prefers thick swampy coastal forest.

  • Flies mostly at dusk in forest clearings or above the forest canopy. It rests by day in among the dark bushes and ferns. May be seen flying low over water by day after a cool, rainy period. When flushed it will settle back after a short flight.
Further reading:

Websites of interest
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Odonata Atlas of Africa VMU Number 664350
African Dragonflies & Damselflies.