New York Natural Heritage Program
Southern Pygmy Clubtail
Lanthus vernalis Carle, 1980

General Description [-]
True to their name, these are very small clubtails (< 4 cm) and overall they look dark and their appendages and cerci are also entirely black.

Identifying Characteristics [-]
The eyes are dull green and the face is cream colored with black edges. The legs and abdomen are black, extensively marked with yellow.

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
The tiny size, single narrow stripe on the thorax and groundwater dependency can distinguish this species from other small clubtails.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
Exuviae (shed skins); adults are very elusive.

Behavior [-]
The larval period is long (at least 3 years) and emergence generally occurs on streambanks or on fallen streamside vegetation 30-60 cm above the water. The maiden flight occurs within a few hours to nearby low trees or shrubs and within a week males begin to establish territories near suitable oviposition sites (Carle, 1980).

Diet [-]
As with most other dragonflies, both larvae and adults are generalist predators. Generalist predator larvae such as Pygmy Clubtails seem to readily shift their prey base if massive perturbations (e.g., pesticides) kill off their main prey (Wallace et al., 1987).
Southern Pygmy Clubtail Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Winged adults breed from late May to early July. Exuviae can sometimes be found (at low densities) on streambanks in June.
Reproducing Larvae present and active
The time of year you would expect to find Southern Pygmy Clubtail reproducing (blue shading) and larvae present and active (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Least Clubtail (Stylogomphus albistylus)
    This tiny clubtail is more of a habitat generalist than the Pygmy's, being found throughout a wider set of lotic habitats. The Least also has prominent white cerci.
  • Northern Pygmy Clubtail (Lanthus parvulus)
    Lanthus vernalis is a relatively newly described species that for a long time was confused with the northern Pygmy Clubtail. Very similar to the northern, the southern can be distinguished in hand by it's different thoracic pattern, which has only one dark narrow stripe on the side.