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Asiatic wedge damsel (Gomphus (Stylurus) flavipes)

Asiatic wedge damsel ( Gomphus (Stylurus) flavipes )

Class : Insects (Insecta)
Subclass : Flying insects (Pterygota)
Order : Dragonflies (Odonata)
Subordination : Dragonflies (Anisoptera)
Superfamily : Aeshnoidea
Family : Mermaids
Scientific name
Rambur , 1842

The river maidens (Gomphidae) are a family of the dragonflies (Anisoptera). They also belong to the dragonflies (Odonata). Its main area of ​​distribution is in the tropics of East Asia and South America. Worldwide they form 91 genera with around 950 species, of which there are only seven species in Germany, some of which are endangered.

The adults of the river maidens reach body lengths of a maximum of five centimeters (only the sea dragon is up to 5.7 cm long) and are noticeable within the large dragonflies by clearly separated complex eyes . They are drawn in black and yellow or black and green. As their name suggests, the animals are mainly found on streams and rivers, but most species can also develop in still waters. On their hunting flights they also fly far away from the water, primarily in wooded areas.


The river maidens are considered to be the morphologically original family of the dragonflies, which have received numerous plesiomorphic features, for example in their wing veins. According to their molecular characteristics (phylogenomics, comparison of homologous DNA sequences), their sister group is the Pacific family of the Petaluridae , with which they have, among other things, the widely separated complex eyes. These two are believed to be the sister group of the other dragonflies taken together.

Eight subfamilies are distinguished within the family, but not all of them are monophyletic based on molecular results. Changes to the system can therefore be expected in the future.

  • Hageniinae
  • Octogomphinae
  • Gomphinae
  • Epigomphinae
  • Austrogomphinae
  • Phyllogomphinae
  • Onychogomphinae
  • Lindeniinae


A distinctive feature of the river maiden (here: Gomphus vulgatissimus ) are the clearly separated complex eyes

The following overview shows the European representatives of the river maiden.

Sea dragon ( Lindenia tetraphylla ), male
Fossil of Cordulagomphus tuberculatus from the Santana Formation in Brazil, in the Natural History Museum Vienna

Mermaids - Gomphidae


  • KD Dijkstra: Dragonflies of Europe - The Guide to Determination, Haupt Verlag, Bern 2014.
  • H. Donath: On the occurrence of the river maiden (Odonata, Gomphidae) on the middle course of the Spree. In: Entomological News and Reports. 29, 1985, pp. 155-160.
  • H. Heidemann: The Gomphus species of Germany and France. Identification key of the larvae and field diagnosis of the adults (Anisoptera, Gomphidae). In: Libellula. 7, 1988, pp. 27-40.
  • G. Jurzitza: The Kosmos dragonfly guide . Franckh-Kosmos Verlag, Stuttgart 2000.
  • K. Sternberg, R. Buchwald (Ed.): Die Libellen Baden-Württemberg. Volume 2: Dragonflies (Anisoptera). Ulmer, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-8001-3514-0 .
  • F. Suhling, O. Müller: The river maids of Europe - Gomphidae. (= The New Brehm Library. 628). Westarp, Magdeburg / Spektrum, Heidelberg 1996, ISBN 3-89432-459-7 .
  • E. Schmidt: Generic reclassification of some west palaearctic Odonata taxa in view of their nearctic affinities (Anisoptera, Gomphidae). In: Advances in Odonatology. 3, 1987, pp. 135-145.

Individual evidence

  1. Frank Louis Carle, Karl M. Kjer, Michael L. May: A molecular phylogeny and classification of Anisoptera (Odonata). In: Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny. 73 (2), 2015, pp. 281-301. (PDF)
  2. ^ Frank Louis Carle: The classification, phylogeny and biogeography of the Gomphidae (Anisoptera). In: Odonatologica. 15, 1986, pp. 275-326. cit. after Frank Suhling, Ole Müller: Die Flußjungfern Europa. (= The new Brehm library. Volume 628). Westarp Sciences, Magdeburg 1996, ISBN 3-89432-459-7 , pp. 11-13.

Web links

Commons : Gomphidae  - collection of images, videos and audio files