New York Natural Heritage Program
Spine-crowned Clubtail
Gomphus abbreviatus Hagen in Selys, 1878
Insects

Identifying Characteristics [-]
As their name suggests, Clubtails have an enlarged tip on the end of their abdomens, giving them a club-like appearance. Adult Spine-crowned Clubtails are stocky, 1.3 to 1.5 inches long, and have a yellow face. They have black legs and gray-blue to green eyes that are separated dorsally. Males have a dark-brown thorax with thick, yellow, dorsal (top) stripes forming a broken "U". Their sides are yellowish-gray with two narrow, black stripes. Spine-crowned Clubtails have a black abdomen with yellow appearing on segments 1-7 and yellow lateral (side) spots on segments 8 and 9. Females are similar in appearance, but have a less developed club, more yellow on their abdominal sides, and a dorsal spot on segment 10. Male terminal appendages and female subgenital plates are distinctive from other Gomphus species when examined under magnification.

Behavior [-]
Female Clubtails oviposit (lay eggs) by tapping the tips of their abdomens onto the surface of swift-flowing water while simultaneously releasing eggs (Mead 2003, Nikula et al. 2003). Male Spine-crowned Clubtails hover over riffles and perch on rocks in streams and rivers (Nikula et al. 2003). This species is extremely elusive in behavior (Donnelly 1999).

Diet [-]
Spine-crowned Clubtail larvae feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates and adults feed on insects which they capture in flight.
Spine-crowned Clubtail Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Adult Spine-crowned Clubtails have been found in New York from May through June, but could probably also be found in July (Nikula et al. 2003, New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). They are known to be the most active in late afternoon, but males could begin patrolling habitats in mid-morning (Dunkle 2000).
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Present Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Spine-crowned Clubtail present (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Green-Faced Clubtail (Gomphus viridifrons)
    Female Green-faced Clubtails have an all-black abdominal segment 10, while the Spine-crowned adult female has a dorsal (top) yellow spot on this segment.
  • Mustached Clubtail (Gomphus adelphus)
    The Mustached Clubtail has black facial stripes whereas the Spine-crowned Clubtail lacks these markings (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2003). The Mustached male's club is mostly black compared to the yellow lateral (side) spots on the Spine-crowned male's club (Nikula et al. 2003).