Common Threadtail (Elattoneura glauca)

View the above photo records (by Alan Manson) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the Common Threadtail in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Platycnemididae

Elattoneura glauca COMMON THREADTAIL


Small size

Length up to 39mm; Wingspan attains 46mm

Males are recognised by their elongate and slender build, grey-blue, black and white colouration and by their turquoise eyes.

Females are easily confused with those of Elattoneura frenulata (Sooty Threadtail). In areas of overlap the two are best told by their association with the males.

Click here for more details on identification.

Elattoneura glauca – Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Elattoneura glauca – Ndumo Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Elattoneura glauca inhabits rank bush and grass alongside rivers and streams. It is usually found in and around grass and shady areas near the water. Most often associated with slow flowing water. Individuals, can at times be found further from water, in thickets and other rank growth.

Habitat – Pongola River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


This species is sluggish and often reluctant to fly. Females are frequently found alongside the males. Most often perches low down among grass stems.

Most active from September to April, but flies all year round at many sites (See Phenology below).

Status and Conservation

Elattoneura glauca is a common species throughout its range. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species is quite resistant to habitat change and frequently makes use of suitable man-made habitats.


It is native to the southern half of the African continent, where it is widespread.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Common Threadtail in the OdonataMAP database as at February 2020.

The next map below is an imputed map, produced by an interpolation algorithm, which attempts to generate a full distribution map from the partial information in the map above. This map will be improved by the submission of records to the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum.

Ultimately, we will produce a series of maps for all the odonata species in the region. The current algorithm is a new algorithm. The objective is mainly to produce “smoothed” maps that could go into a field guide for odonata. This basic version of the algorithm (as mapped above) does not make use of “explanatory variables” (e.g. altitude, terrain roughness, presence of freshwater — we will be producing maps that take these variables into account soon). Currently, it only makes use of the OdonataMAP records for the species being mapped, as well as all the other records of all other species. The basic maps are “optimistic” and will generally show ranges to be larger than what they probably are.

These maps use the data in the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum, and also the database assembled by the previous JRS funded project, which was led by Professor Michael Samways and Dr KD Dijkstra.


Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science projects coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. Ryan Tippett is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the VMU since 2014 and has currently submitted over 11000 records. He is also on the expert identification panel for the OdonataMAP project. Rene Navarro is the genius behind the Virtual Museum. Prof Les Underhill has been Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town since it started in 1991. Although citizen science in biology is Les’s passion, his academic background is in mathematical statistics.