Nebraska Dragonflies and Damselflies

Cobra Clubtail

Gomphurus vastus

Walsh, 1862

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The Cobra Clubtail is a medium-sized black dragonfly with yellow or green markings and a very wide club. It can be recognized by the lateral yellow spots on its club: small dots on abdominal segment 8 and large ones on segment 9. The bases of the wings are occasionally tinted with yellow. The eyes are green, and the face is yellow with a broad blackish stripe. It is often found perching horizontally on rocks along rivers or in the brush near the water's edge. The female is similar to the male, but with a smaller club and paler markings.

Uncommon. This is an eastern species from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and west to the Missouri River. Until recently all our records were from counties bordering theMissouri or lower Platte Rivers and it probably occurs in allcounties bordering the Missouri, at least until the river turnswest. It is reliably found in late June/early July in Nemaha andRichardson Counties but seems less common at other sites alongthe river. In 2012, a year after the Missouri was out of its banks forover 100 days, there were none at the standard sites. It is found in weedyvegetation of the river bank or in mowed paths just back from the river.

In June 2018 and again in July 2019, Cobra Clubtails were found perching on a canoe and on sandbanks along the edge of the Niobrara River in Brown County by Gordon Warrick. They were found in the vicinity of the Norden bridge and were easily approached. These are the western-most records for this species by some 200 miles.

Cobra Clubtail
Cobra Clubtail male. Photo courtesy of Gordon Warrick.
Cobra Clubtail map

Green indicates accepted county record (specimen or photograph).
Yellow indicates sight record only.

Size: 47-57 mm (1.9-2.2 in)

Habitat: large rivers with moderate to strong current

Great Plains Range: TX, OK, KS, NE, MO, IA, MN

Flight season: early June to early July

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