Nebraska Dragonflies and Damselflies

University of Nebraska State Museum - Division of Entomology


Gomphidae Family

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Clubtails are medium-sized dragonflies which are named for the expanded end segments of their abdomens, although some species of clubtails do not have any club. The family is actually defined not by the club but by the widely separated eyes. They generally have a camouflage pattern, usually brown or black marked with yellow in juveniles, the yellow becoming green after a few days. Their complex coloration makes them difficult to spot except when moving. These dragonflies are active over water but perch often, usually horizontally on the ground, rocks or logs.

Plains Clubtail
Plains Clubtail
Brimstone Clubtail
Brimstone Clubtail. Photo courtesy of Terry Hibbitts.

Clubtails males usually have larger clubs than do the females, and both sexes often raise it like a flag, in a posture called "obelisking". The Pond Clubtails (genus Arigomphus) are found near still water and have slender clubs. The Hanging Clubtails (genus Stylurus) fly mostly in summer and autumn. They have short legs and commonly perch on the tops of tree leaves, which their weight bends downward.

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Citation: Paseka, J. M. 2021. Nebraska dragonflies and damselflies. URL