Clubtail Dragonflies: Gomphidae
Second only to the skimmers (Liebellulidae) in number of species, approximately one hundred clubtail species (Gomphidae) fly the water areas of North America.
Currently, clubtails divide into fourteen genera with the Gomphus genus accounting for perhaps one-third of the entire Gomphidae family.
The top picture shows a female Pacific Clubtail (Gomphus kurilis), a common early spring clubtail found near West Coast ponds.
Females have gray eyes and lack the club-like tail.
The majority of genera and species inhabit areas east of the Rocky Mountains and they get recognized by common names such as clubtail, snaketail, ringtail and grappletail.
None of the species are very widespread, and they adapt to slow and fast moving water areas at all elevations.
Calling western North American home, the Grappletail (Octogomphus specularis and North America's sole Octogomphus species), inhabits cool mountain streams from British Columbia, south through California.
The second picture shows a side view of the male with white nose and white thorax stripes. There is also a yellow form.
The third picture shows a female, with more coloring along the side of the abdomen.
At the opposite end of North America, three forceptail species (Aphylla) roam near slow moving waters.
The large size, blue eyes, and relatively bright colors of the Two-striped Forceptail (Aphylla williamsoni) in the third picture help to catch the eye of careful observers.
Males are a bit more colorful than females, having the reddish bottom of the abdomen contrast with the darker patterned abdominal top. The female abdomen is a more consistent dark color.
They fly from mid-summer to late fall.
© 2007-2011 Patricia A. Michaels