Common Hooktail (Paragomphus genei)

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

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

Family Gomphidae

Paragomphus genei COMMON HOOKTAIL


Medium sized

Length reaches 50mm; Wingspan up to 62mm.

Most similar to Paragomphus cognatus (Rock Hooktail) and especially Paragomphus elpidius (Corkscrew Hooktail).

Easily differentiated from Paragomphus cognatus by having a brighter green thorax and all yellow rather than black-tipped claspers that are not splayed apart.

More closely resembles Paragomphus elpidius, but that species is slightly larger, brighter green and more boldly marked. Additionally Paragomphus elpidius has larger foliations near on the abdomen and more strongly hooked upper claspers.

Click here for more details on identification of the Common Hooktail.

Paragomphus genei – Male
Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Frequents the sandy fringes of rivers, streams, ponds, pans and dams. Less reliant on running water than many other Paragomphus species.

Habitat – Mkuze River, Lebombo Mountain Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Males most often perch on damp ground near the waters edge. Females mostly found in woodlands and scrub a short distance from the water.

On the wing from September to May. May be active year round in warmer areas.

Status and Conservation

Common across much of South Africa. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Paragomphus genei is widely distributed over much of Africa, absent only from the Sahara and parts of the central rain forest block. Also found in Mediterranean North Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle-East.

Found virtually throughout South Africa but less common and more localised in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape.

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