Skip Navigation LinksOdes For Beginners : Identifying Odonates : Odonate Families : Dragonfly Families : Spiketails

Click on the +/- to show or hide content

Skip Navigation Links.

Spiketails

To learn more about the only North American genus of Spiketails,click on the link at the right or in the menu.

Spiketails are one of my favorite families of Odonata. They are large, averaging between 2.5 - 3" long. They look much like Darners, but their body coloring is different. Their eyes are aqua blue or green depending upon the species and geographic region. The top of their eyes are tear-shaped, barely touching at a point above their face.The dark thorax has two bold yellow stripes on the top and two more on each side.  The abdomen is black or brown and beautifully colored with patterns of yellow.  Each species will show a distinct pattern, making identification fairly simple. Some species show slightly clubbed abdomens, especially evident in males. Female Spiketails look similar to males, but have a more robust abdomen. Some species have a long, pointed ovipositor, thus the name Spiketail.

Spiketails live and breed mostly near seepages and small flowing streams with sandy or mud bottoms. You can find them patrolling slowly back and forth searching for females and prey.  When visible, spiketails are easy to identify, there are not too many odonata with similar yellow patterning on their abdomens. Once you have seen one, it will most definitely be on top of your list of favorites.

Spiketails perch obliquely on vertical stems, often in weedy fields well away from water.

When ready to mate, males hover close to the water looking for females, sometimes traveling very long distances in their pursuit. When ready to lay eggs, the females use their spike-like ovipositor to lay eggs in the muddy bottom of very shallow water. They do this by hovering closely to the water's surface, and thrusting their abdomens into the water, sort of like sewing machines.

Spiketail larvae are cylindrical and flattened in shape with a hairy appearance. They  lie-and-wait for prey to come their way, and can usually be found mostly submerged in sand and silt protected under pieces of wood or leafy debris.  These species are long-lived and require at least 3-4 years in which to develop into adults.

© 2017 Sheryl Chacon Search