Little Duskhawker, Gynacantha manderica, Klein Skemerventer

118 509 Gynacantha manderica Badenhorst 1
118 510 Gynacantha manderica Badenhorst 2 1
Short description

Little Duskhawker, Gynacantha manderica, Klein Skemerventer is large sized, slender, mottled brown, with slightly smoky wings and a small blue abdominal saddle. Face greenish buff.

Family Aeshnidae   Leach, 1815

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Key identification features:


  • Eyes are greenish brown. Frons is olive to brown, with dark brown, longitudinal smudge above. The black mark on the frons is narrow and mushroom-like, rather than broad and pentagonal.
  • Thorax is mottled pinkish dull green becoming darker brown with age. Abdomen is speckled yellow, dark and light brown, S1-2 is wide tapering sharply to a very long thin S2, marking a distinct thin waist. S2 and first of  bit of S3 is light blue, to form a saddle with a dorsal gap on second of S2.The auricles are whitish above, with black margins and 6-7 strong teeth.
  • Wing bases are clear and are very broad and rounded, slightly smoky, becoming darkly smoky in old individuals. It has 13-19 Ax veins.The lengths of the individual wings are less than the length of the abdomen.


  • Larger but very similar to male, but without blue abdominal saddle.

Scarce and localized,  confined to the coastal plains of Northern ECP, KZN and the low-lying rivers of
Swaziland, eastern MP, LP and Mozambique. Prefers pools and dams, in or near woodland or forest,
in drier habitats than other African Gynacantha species. Found along swampy rivers. A crepuscular species.

  • Hawks swiftly over pools or in forest clearings at dusk. Occasionally attracted to light. Rests by day within about 1 m of the ground, in dark, thick undergrowth, sometimes hundreds of metres from water.
Compared with other species:
  • The body of  Gynacanth manderica is generally smaller than in other Gynacantha spp.
  • Gynacantha usambarica has blue abdominal spots but not as distinctive as the Evening Hawker,
  • Anaciaeschna triangulifera. Gynacantha usambarica is larger than the Little Duskhawker G. manderica but smaller that the Brown Duskhawker, Gynacantha villosa.
  • G.usambarica 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 an “Eiffel tower” like marking above the nose. G. manderica has a broadish black line above the nose.

Gynacantha manderica Little Duskhawker Distribution Map July 2020








South Africa

  • A difficult species to photograph due to Lowveld areas of LP, MP, KZN and northern ECP


  • Angola; Benin; Côte d'Ivoire; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Gambia; Ghana; Guinee-Bissau; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Republic of Guinea; Republic of South Africa; Sierra Leone; Somalia; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe;
Further reading: