New York Natural Heritage Program
Russet-tipped Clubtail
Stylurus plagiatus (Selys, 1854)

Identifying Characteristics [-]
As their name suggests, Clubtails have an enlarged tip on the end of their abdomens, giving them a club-like appearance. Clubtails in the genus Stylurus have long and slender abdomens with small to moderately sized clubs. The eastern form of the Russet-tipped Clubtail has a gray-green thorax with dark lateral (side) stripes. This form also has a rusty orange "club" (on abdominal segments 7-10). They are 2.4 inches in length with green eyes and, as with all Gomphids, their eyes are separated dorsally (from the top-down view). Their abdomens are brown with a median green stripe. Male terminal appendages and female subgenital plates are distinctive from other Stylurus species when examined under magnification. Female Russet-tipped Clubtails are more drab, have a more elongate abdomen, and a much narrower club than males. Both sexes have a brownish face and short, blackish brown legs.

Behavior [-]
Gomphid larvae spend much of their time burrowing into the substrate of rivers and lakes were they are found. Adult Stylurus prefer perching spots on leaf surfaces in trees high off the ground (Nikula et al. 2003). They maintain prolonged flights over water to forage and fly to treetops to consume their meal (Walker 1958). Adult males patrol from 9 A.M. to dark and are strong fliers (Dunkle 2000).

Diet [-]
Russet-tipped Clubtail larvae feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates and adults feed on insects which they capture in flight, frequently diving into the water to retrieve a prey item (Walker 1958).
Russet-tipped Clubtail Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Stylurus plagiatus are active from late June into late September in a northern climate (Dunkle 2000). Clubtails in the genus Stylurus are most abundant in August and early September (Nikula et al. 2003). Adult males may be found patrolling their territories from 9 in the morning until dark (Dunkle 2000). Larvae may be found in appropriate habitats year-round.
Present Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Russet-tipped Clubtail present (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Arrow Clubtail (Stylurus spiniceps)
    Arrow Clubtails have a very elongate appearance with a slender club (Nikula et al. 2003). This is the only Stylurus with abdominal segment 9 noticably longer than segment 8 (Dunkle 2000).
  • Zebra Clubtail (Stylurus scudderi)
    The Zebra Clubtail is a similarly large clubtail to the Russet-tipped, but the Zebra is the only large clubtail with greenish yellow rings on segments 3-7 of a black abdomen (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2003).
  • Elusive Clubtail (Stylurus notatus)
    The abdominal segements 7-9 of the Elusive Clubtail have areas of dark brown and yellow, as opposed to the orange-brown coloration of these segments on the Russet-tipped Clubtail (Needham et al. 2000).
  • Riverine Clubtail (Stylurus amnicola)
    The thorax of the Riverine Clubtail is dark brown with a yellowish green T-shaped collar. Its abdomen is black with yellow markings. This species is smaller and has a paler thorax than the Arrow Clubtail (Nikula et al. 2003).