Genus Microgomphus Selys, 1858


  • scientific: Africogomphus Fraser, 1936 [zebra]

Type species: Microgomphus chelifer Selys, 1857


About ten species are confined to forested streams in tropical Asia, with three or more small (hindwing 21-25 mm) and dark species in Africa. They are extremely elusive: larvae, exuviae and even adult females are easier to find than males. For example, the only record of the genus from South Africa is of an unidentified larval skin, while larvae collected in Sierra Leone suggest three species occur together in western Africa, while only two are named. Because there are few collected specimens and these all seem very similar, only differing subtly in male appendages, the species’ taxonomy is unresolved. The genus itself, however, is easily identified by its size, distinctive venation, and simple markings. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]


Genus not particularly close to any other Gomphid, however similar to most by (a) dorsal border of metepisternum without spine; (b) posterior hamules small, leaving wide gap between them and posterior lamina; (c) Hw base broad with distinct anal triangle of 3-6 cells, tornus angular and without thick tooth; (d)triangles of 1 cell; anal triangle of 2-4 cells [2-6], or not well developed; (e) anal loop indistinct or of 1-2 cells; (f) S8-9 either without or both with foliations; (g) S10 with smooth dorsum, at most humped, usually not longer than high, if so it has dorsal crest or is constricted at base. Microgomphus is set apart from the rest by (1) Fw discoidal field widens distally, at level of node is distinctly wider than at base; (2) Hw with 3-5 cross-veins between sectors of arculus proximal to radial fork, which is asymmetrical in all wings; (3) cerci with inner branch. [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014; this diagnosis not yet verified by author]

Map citation: Clausnitzer, V., K.-D.B. Dijkstra, R. Koch, J.-P. Boudot, W.R.T. Darwall, J. Kipping, B. Samraoui, M.J. Samways, J.P. Simaika & F. Suhling, 2012. Focus on African Freshwaters: hotspots of dragonfly diversity and conservation concern. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 129-134.


  • Pinhey, E. (1961). Some dragonflies (Odonata) from Angola; and descriptions of three new species of the family Gomphidae. Publicacoes Culturais Companhia de Diamantes de Angola, 56, 79-86. [PDF file]
  • Dijkstra, K.-D.B. (2007). The name-bearing types of Odonata held in the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, with systematic notes on Afrotropical taxa. Part 1: introduction and Anisoptera. International Journal of Odonatology, 10, 137-170. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies (Odonata) of Central Africa. Occasional Papers Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 14, 1-97. [PDF file]
  • Fraser, F.C. (1955). Odonata. Exploration Parc National Upemba. Mission G F de Witte, 38, 1-34. [PDF file]
  • Fraser, F.C. (1949). Gomphidae from the Belgian Congo (order Odonata). Revue Zoologie Botanique Africaines, 42, 101-138. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2017-03-26].