Bottletail (Olpogastra lugubris)

View the above photo record (by Niall Perrins) in OdonataMAP here.

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

Family Libellulidae

Olpogastra lugubris BOTTLETAIL

Karsch, 1895


Large Size

Length up to 62mm; Wingspan attains 89mm.

Olpogastra lugubris is unmistakable and the only member of its genus.

Both sexes are similar in appearance and easily recognised by their long and very thin abdomens. The abdomen base is also noticeably swollen.

Most similar to Zygonoides fuelleborni, but that species has a noticeably broad abdomen that tapers near the waist.

Click here for more details on identification of the Bottletail.

Olpogastra lugubris – Male
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Photo by Ryan Tippett


A riverine species that frequents both seasonal and perennial rivers. Prefers shallow, flowing sections of rivers that are flanked by tall reeds, papyrus or trees.

Habitat – Ndumo Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Perches prominently on reed stems and tree branches that over hang the river. Usually sits fairly low down along the inside of river channels. The flight is fast and agile. Both sexes occur in the same area.

Status and Conservation

Uncommon and localised in South Africa, but may be common in other regions such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana. It is listed locally as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species. The global listing for Olpogastra lugubris is of Least Concern.


Olpogastra lugubris is widespread throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Bottletail 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.

Further Resources

Virtual Museum (OdonataMAP > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name)

More common names: Lenige Bottelstert (Afrikaans)

Type Locality: Dongola, Sudan

Recommended citation format: Loftie Eaton. M; Hofmeyr S; Tippett RM; Underhill L. Bottletail Olpogastra lugubris. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available online at

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.