About this guide

This guide is unashamedly a visual one with very little written content.

John Wilkinson and Rob Dickinson chose to pool their resources together to present these intriguing insects in a whole new way.

The aim is to find, photograph, identify and visually show all the key identification features of all the odonata species that may be found in South Africa. It goes without saying that this will always be a work in progress and the author welcome any comments, reports of errors or omissions, new information or even content that will assist in improving this site.

The team

John Wilkinson

John has a keen interest in photography, dragonflies and damselflies.

He is particularly interested in observing these insects, constantly looking for, documenting and testing his theories of new identification criteria that can be used to reliably identify dragonflies from photographs alone.

(Click any thumbnail like this one for a larger pop over view, this is the way it works throughout this website).

Rob Dickinson

Rob had a keen interest in photography and also all creatures great and small.  He searched for wildlife wherever he traveled and he particularly enjoyed overcoming the challenges associated with photographing the animals in their natural habitats.

Rob was also the webmaster, he built and maintained this site. R.I.P my friend.

(Click any thumbnail like this one for a larger pop over view, this is the way it works throughout this website).

Recommendations on using this guide

It is strongly recommended that the reference books shown below be used in conjunction with this visual guide, these contain other identification clues that are not mentioned on these pages.

Wherever possible, look-alike species are compared with each other, some comparisons include side notes.

Ordinarily females are very difficult to identify without observing interaction with same-species males, new work on the identification of lone females has been incorporated in this guide.

Links to buy the books are provided below in order of the authors' names, pages will open in a new tab/window.


Thanks to the authors of the books above for their expert guidance from time to time.

We also learn a lot from our friends on the group Dragonflies and Damselflies of Southern Africa who we constantly debate matters with.

Thanks to the team at the University of Cape Town Animal Demography Unit (ADU), they store all our field photographs, they identify them and then use the data to produce the up-to-date species distributions maps that we have included on this site. Become a citizen scientist and upload your odonata images to the Virtual Museum.

Thanks to Juan-Pierre Antunes, Norman Barrett, Sharon Basel, Gert Bensch, Justin Bode, Bertie Brink, Tim Cockcroft, Lucia Cowan, Gregg Darling, Desire Darling, Alex Davidse, Hennie de Klerk, Andries de Vries, Estelle Duchemann, Corrie Du Toit, Hesmarie Els, Faz Enes, Xavier Fazakerley, Felicity Grundlingh, Benoît Guillon, Hillary Harrison, Nicholas Hart, Chris Hines, Jean Hirons, Andrew Hodgson, Allen Holmes, Georg Jacobs, Richard Johnstone, Simon Joubert, Herb Kagelaar, Dawie Kleynhans, Lappies Labuschagne, Pieter La Grange, Drew Lyness, Stewart MacLachlan, Alan Manson, Andre Marais, Alice Möller, Gert Myburgh, Charl Oettle, Dave Pepler, Niall Perrins, Selwyn Quan, Corné Rautenbach, Katharina Reddig, Eddie Reinecke, Diana Russel, Mohamed Salah, Peter Small, Antoinette Snyman, Trish Strachan, Sharon Stanton, Stuart Shearer, Russel Tate, Gábor Z. Tarján, Alf Taylor, Robert Taylor, Ryan Tippett, Wilna Steenkamp, Carel van der Merwe, Elsa Vink, Dave West, Nick Wetoo, Ronelle Nezar White and Steve Woodhall for contributing photographs. Contributors' names will be added within any photographs we use that are not our own.

Since this site is image rich, all graphics are compressed and they do not represent original file quality.

South African Odonata related Websites

Links to websites are arranged in alphabetical order, pages will open in a new tab/window.

•  ADDO - African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online
•  Dragonflies and Damselflies of Southern Africa
•  Insect photographs by Alan Manson
•  Niall's Nature Pages
•  Warwick Tarboton

International Odonata related Websites

Links to International websites are arranged in alphabetical order, pages will open in a new tab/window.

•  Foreign language sites can usually be translated by right clicking in your browser and selecting translate to English
•  It is already known that some links may require repair or removal from time to time
•  Please report bad links or request that your own link be added