Small Pincertail - Onychogomphus forcipatus

Scientific Name: Onychogomphus forcipatus.

English Name: Small Pincertail or Green Eyed Hooktail.

French Name: Le gomphus a pinces (='the clubtail with pincers').

5 Key Characters:
  • blue green eyes.
  • black and yellow body.
  • males have a set of dark pincer like appendages at the tip of the abdomen.
  • usually found near strongly flowing water, especially if the stream bed is sandy.
  • males usually seen resting on the bare ground or large rocks.
Lookalikes: Large Pincertail O. uncatus, but this species is much less common and has very definitely blue eyes and more extensive yellow. You could also confuse the Small Pincertail with the Clubtails, and we have written a post on our daily blog, Days on the Claise, with details of how you distinguish these species from each other and from the Pincertail. This is the only place in Europe where you can see so many species of Gomphid in one area.

Habitat: Sunny strongly flowing rivers and streams, especially if they are rocky, gravelly or sandy. Sometimes canals. Occasionally at large lakes if they have movement and are well oxygenated, also oxbow lakes and old gravel pits if they are spring fed. The photo above of a male was taken in the garden of the Chateau of Chenonceau, on a gravel path. The Chateau is situated on a shallow relatively fast flowing section of the Cher River.

Flight Period: May-June-July-August-September.

Status: Still common here, but listed as Vulnerable on the European Red Lists. To ensure their continued healthy population water pollution needs to be controlled, gravel extraction from minor rivers limited, riverbanks preserved in the most natural state possible and alterations to course, flow and damming discouraged. The most visible of all the Gomphids in the Touraine Loire Valley.

Further Reading and References:
A post on the Small Pincertail on Days on the Claise.

Les Libellules de France, Belgique et Luxembourg by Daniel Grand and Jean-Pierre Boudot, one of the excellent Parthénope Collection of field guides published by Biotope.

Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe by Klaas-Douwe B Dijkstra and Richard Lewington.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

All photos will enlarge in a new window if you click on them. Row 1 left a male, on the gravelly banks of a bief (millstream) in the Aigronne Valley (between le Petit Pressigny and le Grand Pressigny).

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