Common Citril (Ceriagrion glabrum)

View the above photo record (by Diana Russell) in OdonataMAP here.

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

Family Coenagrionidae

Ceriagrion glabrumCOMMON CITRIL


Small size

Length up to 46mm; Wingspan reaches 53mm.

Over most of its South African range Ceriagrion glabrum is easily recognised by virtue of it being the only small, all-orange damselfy at any given site. However, in the Lowveld and far NE KwaZulu-Natal there is another similar, albeit much rarer species, Ceriagrion suave. These two species can be easily confused.

They are best told apart in the hand, by examining the hind-margin of the last abdominal segment (S10). Ceriagrion glabrum has small teeth on the upper hind margin, while Ceriagrion suave lacks these teeth.

Females are overall plain greenish to yellow-brown and become progressively orange with age. Best identified by association with the males.

Cluck here for more details on identification.

Ceriagrion glabrum – Male
Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Occupies a wide range of still-water habitats, including marshes, ponds, dams, pans and the quiet backwaters of rivers and streams. Favours sites that are rich in reeds, grasses and sedge.

Habitat – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal.
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Sits and flies among the stems of reeds, grasses and sedge. Mostly found at water but frequently found some distance away. Both sexes are often seen together at the same sites.

Most active from October to May. On the wing all year round in some places (See Phenology below).

Status and Conservation

A common to abundant species. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Common Citril is an adaptable species that readily occupies suitable man-made habitats.


Ceriagrion glabrum is found virtually throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Also occurs on Madagascar and many of the Indian Ocean islands.

In South Africa it is mainly found in the savanna regions but extends down into the Western Cape along the lower lying coastal plain.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Common Citril 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.