To learn more about the groups (genera)of Clubtails, click on the links at the right
or in the menu.
Clubtails are named for the lateral widening of abdominal segments 7-9 in many species.
The club is more pronounced in males. But remember, not all clubtails have clubs
and some non-clubtails such as Cruisers and Clubskimmers have them.
They have widely separated eyes that are usually green or blue. The black or brown
thorax and abdomen are distinctively patterned in gray, yellow or green. The
wings are generally clear and appear to be set back, while their legs present
forward. Clubtails vary in size ranging from 1.5 to over 3 inches long.
Females are similar to males in coloration, but generally have more extensive yellow
markings and a stockier abdomen.
Unlike most dragonflies, clubtails are usually not high fliers, but stay low to
the ground, spending much of their time at rest. They can often be found perched
horizontally on flat surfaces such as rocks, leaves and even paved roadways.
A group commonly referred to as hanging clubtails often prefer to perch high in
trees and can be rather difficult if not impossible to observe. Some
male clubtails will make lengthy patrols through breeding sites only perching occasionally.
Most Clubtails are particular when it comes to habitat. While a few can be found
in still water, most prefer pristine streams and rivers. The presence or absence
of clubtail larvae plays an important rule in conversation, as an indicator of water
Most clubtails mate while perched. Female clubtails lack an ovipositor and lay their
eggs by dipping the tip of their abdomen into the water. This is usually done without
the company of the male. Clubtail eggs generally have a gelatin-like sack around
them to keep them from washing away in the current. The egg sack will adhere
to vegetation, rocks, leaves or muggy bottoms where development will begin.
Clubtail larvae are robust with wedge-shaped heads and thick antennae, with legs
that are extended to the side and modified for burrowing. The color of the
nymph is brown or drab green. They are sprawlers and burrowers in the sand, mud,
and gravel of fast flowing streams. In most species, the mature larvae crawls
out onto the shore emerging on rocks, leaves or even bridge structures.