Approximately sixty percent of the Gomphidae species have the common name Clubtail, leading many novice dragonfly enthusiasts confused when they hear the name Clubtail dragonflies associated with the Gomphidae family. They quickly learn that other species such as Forceptails, Spinylegs, Snaketails and Ringtails also get classified in the Gomphidae family.
Please press the Clubtails button on the left to learn more about these species. This page presents clubtail dragonfly pictures covering some representative species that actually have the common name Clubtail attached to them.
As you scroll down the page, notice the size of the club shape on the tail and any potential patterns present. Those are often good first field identification clues.
Habitat also helps with clubtail identification. Some species prefer fast moving stream and river environments. Other clubtail species prefer slow moving pond environments.
On the bright side, clubtail dragonfly pictures can be collected, regardless of the habitat. Most if not all the species enjoy basking in the sun.
Depending on the source, most clubtails can be placed in one genera, Gomphus. Other sources have recently divided the Gomphus genera into three or four genera.
This presentation uses the multiple genera starting point. For example, Hanging Clubtails (genus Stylurus) get their common name from their practice of resting vertically on brush and leaves. Given their size and weight (relatively speaking) they often look to be hanging straight up and down while at rest.
In most areas they are a late season (summer and fall) species. Ten species are currently recognized and at least one species can be found in most areas of the United States. The top picture shows a Russet-tipped Clubtail (Stylurus plagiatus), a fairly common Eastern species.
Here’s three more hanging clubtail species.
Riverine Clubtails inhabit rivers and fast moving waters of some Northeast and Great Lakes areas. Notice how the clubtail on the male club has large yellow spots bordered by black. That’s commo for the hanging clubtails.
Olive Clubtails inhabit the Pacific Northwest into Montana.
Zebra Clubtails are another Northeast, New England and Great Lakes species.
More Clubtail Dragonfly Pictures
At least one of the sixteen clubtails in the relatively new genus Phanogomphusa can be found in most states. Only two species, the Ashy Clubtail, Lancet Clubtail and the Pronghorn Clubtail have an extended range.- 16 species coast to coast. The picture shows the Lancet Clubtail, a common East Coast species.
Located from North to South, Pronghorn Clubtails are the Midwest species in the genera.
Rapids Clubtails inhabit river areas in the Northeast, New England and around the Great Lakes. They rank as one of the smaller clubtail dragonflies.
Harpoon Clubtails are another Northeast, New England species. They don’t grow over two inches in length and inhabit stream areas. Note the lack of a large or prominent clubtail.
The Ashy Clubtail ranks an another of the wide ranging members of the Phanogomphusa genera.
Dusky Clubtail. Note: because species in this genera share similar physical characteristics such as yellow patches on the club, brown thorax with two yellow lateral stripes, photographs are often not sufficient to identify six common easern clubtails, (Ashy, Beaverpond, Dusky, Harpoon, Lancet, Rapids).
Cypress Clubtails have a range limited to the Cypress ecosystems of the Southeast, especially Louisiana and Florida.
Pacific Clubtails are the only species in the Phanogomphusa genera with a Western range. They live in Oregon and California.
Sulphur-tipped clubtail dragonflies are a Midwest and Texas specialty.
Eastern Least Clubtails belong to a separate genera. They prefer streams and creeks along most areas of the East Coast and around the Great Lakes.
Their bodies are small and thin. Males have black bodies with distinct white cerci, or tips at the bottom of the abdomen. Females, like the one pictured, have brown and yellow markings.
Thirteen Gomphurus species, or about one half of the members of the formally known as Gomphus genus. The genera does not have a common name as yet. Only one species, the Columbia Clubtail, lives in the West. Midland Clubtails range from the Midwest to the Northeast.
The Cobra Clubtail ranks at the top of the list of the most wide ranging of all the Gomphurus Clubtail dragonflies. It lives in most states east of the Rocky Mountains.
Tamaulipan Clubtails (Gomphurus gonzalezi) limit their range to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Skillet Clubtails (Gomphurus ventricosus) have a medium range, covering most states in the Midwest, Northeast and New England.
Seven Pond Clubtail dragonflies (genus Arigomphus) live around slow moving water and ponds. Most can be initially identified by the presence of slender clubs. Jade Clubtails have a range that extends from Texas, north to states around the Mississippi river.
Unicorn Clubtails are more far ranging. States in the Midwest, Northeast and New England serve as the home territory.
Lilypad Clubtails inhabit ponds from the Great Lakes areas to New England and some of the Northeast.