Slender Pintail(Acisoma variegatum)

View the above record (by Desiré Darling) in OdonataMAP here.

Find this species in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Libellulidae

Acisoma variegatum SLENDER PINTAIL


Small size

Hind wing25mm.

Easily recognised as an Acisoma species by the swollen abdomen base that tapers off sharply from segment 6 down to the tip.

Most similar to the Stout Pintail (Acisoma inflatum). The two species bear a close resemblance to one another and co-occur at many sites.

The most conclusive way to separate the two is the colouration difference, on the S4 ventral corner, along the sides of the abdomen. In A. variegatum the ventral corner is mostly white. This same area is edged with black in A. inflatum. Additionally the S5 lateral carina is partly white in A. variegatum and all-black in A. inflatum.

Acisoma variegatum shows segments 6 and 7 of equal length, while in Acisoma inflatum segment 6 is shorter than segment 7.

Additionally Acisoma variegatum tends to be a little larger and somewhat brighter in colour, with less of the yellowish-brown wash on the thorax.

Click here for more details on identification.

Acisoma variegatum – Male
Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Inhabits the shallow, standing waters of marshes, pans, floodplains and slow moving rivers. Occupies both permanent and seasonal wetlands and prefers sites that are rich in sedge, grasses and various types of floating and emergent vegetation.


Sits close to the water on floating or emergent plant stems. Hunts from a perch and quickly resettles again. Has a fast wasp-like flight.

Status and Conservation

Locally common. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Most common in natural habitats but will make use of suitable man-made sites like dams and ponds.


Widespread in Eastern and Southern Africa, extending from Ethiopia in the north down to South Africa.

The South African distribution is centered around the hot savanna regions. Its range extends along the coastal plain to the Eastern Cape border.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Slender Pintail 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.