New York Natural Heritage Program
Rapids Clubtail
Gomphus quadricolor Walsh, 1863
Insects

Identifying Characteristics [-]
As their name suggests, Clubtails have an enlarged tip on the end of their abdomens, giving them a club-like appearance. Not only is this species uncommon in New York State, but it is difficult to see due to its camouflaged coloration. The Rapids Clubtail is greenish yellow in color with blackish brown stripes and a blackish abdomen with yellow dorsal (top) and lateral (side) stripes (Needham et al. 2000, Nikula et al. 2003). They are 42-45 mm (1.7-1.8 inches) in length with a 31-34 mm abdomen. They have blue-green eyes and, as with all Gomphids, their eyes are separated dorsally. They have a slender abdomen with a widened "club" at the end and abdominal segments 8-10 are dark dorsally, with yellow, linear spots present on the top of the other abdominal segments. Yellow to gray-green stripes occur laterally on all abdominal segments. The male anterior hamule (the top pair of terminal appendages, consisting of hardened cuticle, which borders the genital pocket) is sickle-shaped and female sub-genital plate is thick and 1/7 as long as abdominal segment 9 and has a V-notch nearly to the base. They may be distinguished from other similar species by the following characteristics: Adults have a more prominent club and less yellow on the abdomen and completely black legs. Also, females have more yellow spotting on their abdomen.

Behavior [-]
Gomphid larvae spend much of their time burrowing into the substrate of streams and rivers where they are found. Adults are found perching on the ground, on emergent rocks in streams and rivers, or on leaf surfaces (Nikula et al. 2003). Adult females oviposit by tapping their abdomens onto the surface of swift-flowing water while simultaneously releasing eggs (Nikula et al. 2003, Mead 2003).

Diet [-]
Rapids Clubtail larvae feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates and adults feed on insects which they capture in flight.
Rapids Clubtail Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Adults are active from late May through mid-July. Larvae may be found in appropriate aquatic habitats year-round. Exuviae (cast skin of dragonfly larvae) are best found in June (Cuthrell 2000).
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Present Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Rapids Clubtail present (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Dusky Clubtail (Gomphus spicatus)
    The Dusky Clubtail is noticably larger and more drab than the Rapids Clubtail. Females have a pale lateral stripe on abdominal segment 7 where the Rapids Clubtail female has a pale basal spot. Females also usually have pale hind thighs and a pale dorsal stripe on abdominal segment 10. Both sexes of the Dusky Clubtails have pale shins and a dorsal yellow spot on abdominal segments 8 and 10.
  • Ashy Clubtail (Gomphus lividus)
    The Ashy Clubtail has a less developed club and their legs are a lighter brown color basally than the Rapids Clubtail.
  • Lancet Clubtail (Gomphus exilis)
    The Lancet Clubtail has brown legs, whereas the Rapids Clubtail has black legs. This species usually has pale dorsal markings on each abdominal segment.
  • Harpoon Clubtail (Gomphus descriptus)
    The Harpoon Clubtail is noticably larger and more drab than the Rapids Clubtail. Females have a pale lateral stripe on abdominal segment 7 where the Rapids Clubtail female has a pale basal spot. Females also usually have pale hind thighs and a pale dorsal stripe on abdominal segment 10 (Dunkle 2000).
  • Beaverpond Clubtail (Gomphus borealis)
    The Beaverpond Clubtail is noticably larger and more drab than the Rapids Clubtail. The Beaverpond Clubtail has a narrower brown midfrontal stripe. Females have a pale lateral stripe on abdominal segment 7 where the Rapids Clubtail female has a pale basal spot (Dunkle 2000).