Posts Tagged ‘Clubtail Family’

New discoveries in 2016

December 26, 2016

The more you know, the more you know how much you don’t know. Huh? There’s always more to discover/learn! My new discoveries in 2016 are presented in reverse-chronological order.

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly exuviae

Perithemis tenera exuviae, published on 06 December 2016.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuvia collected from the Potomac River, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

07 JUL 2016 | Potomac River | Eastern Amberwing (exuvia, head-on)

I’m a man on a mission to demystify the art and science of odonate exuviae identification. The task is as challenging as I was led to believe, but with determination and persistence it is do-able.

The specimens featured in this post are the first odonate exuviae that I was able to identify to the species level. Although the specimens were collected in early July, they were identified in early December. New species will be added to my Odonate Exuviae page when their identity is confirmed.


Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) is a familiar location where several species, previously unknown to occur at the park, were discovered in 2016.

Shadow Darner dragonfly

Shadow Darner dragonfly (female), posted on 18 October 2016.

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (male), posted on 26 September 2016.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly

Another new species discovered at JMAWR, posted on 20 September 2016.

Lancet Clubtail dragonfly

Identifying clubtails by the calendar, posted on 30 June 2016.

A Lancet Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus exilis) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

26 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Lancet Clubtail (male)


In addition to my contributions to the odonate species list at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Mike Powell discovered the first official record of Swift Setwing at JMAWR and in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Hamules

December 2, 2016

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) was spotted during a photowalk at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR). This individual is a male, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of his abdomen and by his prominent hamules.

hamules: paired structures that project from genital pocket under second segment and hold female abdomen in place during copulation Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 11618-116198). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Male dragonfly secondary genitalia, called hamules, are located below abdominal segments two and three (S2 and S3), as shown in the following annotated image. Hamules come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but their function is identical for all species of odonates. Some species of dragonflies and damselflies — such as Ashy Clubtail versus Lancet Clubtail and Southern Spreadwing versus Sweetflag Spreadwing, to name a few — can be differentiated/identified with certainty only by examining the hamules under magnification.

(See a full-size version of the original photo, without annotation.)

Like many species of Family Gomphidae (Clubtail dragonflies), the hamules of male Russet-tipped Clubtails are conspicuous — there’s nothing subtle about these guys!

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Meme used with permission from Jacki Morrison (Minnesota Dragonflies).

The preceding meme features an outtake from “War of the Coprophages,” an episode of The X-Files (TV Series). Fox Mulder is an FBI agent who investigates paranormal activity; Dr. Bambi Berenbaum is a fictional scientist named after American entomologist Dr. May Berenbaum. I wasn’t into dragonflies when the episode aired in 1996, so the snippet of risque dialog about cockroaches (quoted in the meme) was lost on me. In retrospect, it’s clear that at least one of the writers/consultants for the episode must be quite familiar with dragonflies!

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

When things go wrong

November 30, 2016

One week after I witnessed the miraculous metamorphosis of an emergent male Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphis obscuris), I was reminded that a lot can go wrong during emergence. Like the old blues standard says…

When things go wrong, go wrong with you
It hurts me too.

An emergent nymph was spotted during a photowalk along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park. The nymph was in the same position hours later, so I’m sad to say the dragonfly was stuck in its exuvia.

Related Resource: Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male), a blog post by Walter Sanford featuring a time-series of photographs documenting the metamorphosis of an emergent male Common Sanddragon dragonfly on 01 June 2016 at Wickford Park.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Sanddragon dragonfly (male)

November 28, 2016

A Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) was spotted during a photowalk along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

Like all male clubtail dragonflies, the hindwings of male Common Sanddragons are “indented” near the body. This distinctive field marker is shown well by the first, fourth, and last photos in this gallery.

Half of the photographs in this set are full-frame, that is, uncropped. Like the next photo. Knee-high rubber boots enabled me to photowalk the stream channel, allowing me to get much closer to the subject. This guy is the second of at least five adult males I was able to photograph at close range during the outing.

Some people imagine the yellow markings along the abdomen look like small burning candles.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Russet-tipped Clubtail claspers

November 3, 2016

Another Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) was spotted during a photowalk at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

This individual is a male, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of his abdomen, “indented” hindwings (see annotated image, below), and his terminal appendages.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I like the way the hint of red coloration in the fall foliage complements the male’s russet-colored club.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [*]

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

This guy was by far the most cooperative of several Russet-tipped Clubtails spotted at the same location, as evidenced by the fact that he allowed me to shoot 119 photos in a variety of poses. Several of the better photos in the set were cherry-picked for this post; more photos may be published in a follow-up post.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [*]

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”); and a lower unpaired epiproct (“inferior appendage”).

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

(See a full-size version of the original photo, without annotation.)

Notice the epiproct is a large “plate” that spans both cerci, as shown in the full-size version of the preceding photo.

Male Russet-tipped Clubtails have a larger, more colorful club than females of the same species, and their terminal appendages are shaped differently. Compare and contrast the appearance of males and females by looking at the following “Related Resources.”

Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Stylurus | Stylurus plagiatus | Russet-tipped Clubtail | male | top view
  • Genus Stylurus | Stylurus plagiatus | Russet-tipped Clubtail | female | top view
  • Genus Stylurus | Stylurus plagiatus | Russet-tipped Clubtail | female | side view

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another sighting of Russet-tipped Clubtail

October 20, 2016

It was my good fortune to see another Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) on 03 October 2016 during a photowalk at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

This one was by far the most challenging to spot/rewarding to find because the dragonfly was perching high in a cedar tree where it was well camouflaged.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [*]

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of his abdomen, and his terminal appendages. Notice the epiproct is a large “plate” that spans both cerci, as shown in the full-size version of the following photo.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [Good view of terminal appendages.]

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I love a good head-tilt, as shown in the next photo.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I like the way the coloration of the male Russet-tipped Clubtail complements the color palette of the background in all of the photos.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [Good view of terminal appendages.]

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another Russet-tipped Clubtail

October 14, 2016

I was eager to see another Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) after I spotted one on 22 September 2016 during a photowalk at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

A male Russet-tipped Clubtail was observed on 25 September 2016 at JMAWR, but it was only a fleeting glimpse. When I spotted him, he was flitting around looking for a perch — after two “touch-and-gos” he flew toward the trees in the distance and I never saw him again.

Another Russet-tipped Clubtail was spotted on 27 September 2016 that was more cooperative. This individual is a male, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of his abdomen, and his terminal appendages.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Notice this male has tattered wings; the one spotted on 22 September does not. Facing forward, there’s a nick in the lower-left hindwing (above), and a chunk is missing from the upper-right forewing (below). Although this post is entitled Another Russet-tipped Clubtail, this male could be the same one seen on either the 22nd or the 25th with wing damage sustained during the interval between photowalks.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I love a good head-tilt, as shown in the preceding photo. But wait, there’s more to love — the hint of fall in the foliage in all of the photos.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Also notice all of the photos in this gallery show excrement extending from the tip of the abdomen. I’m a paparazzi who likes to photograph odonates “going about their usual life routines,” including doing their business. Hey, life happens!

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (male)

September 26, 2016

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) was spotted near Mulligan Pond during a photowalk at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR). Russet-tipped Clubtail is a new species on my life list of odonates. As far as I know, this is the first official record of Russet-tipped Clubtail at JMAWR.

Mulligan Pond is located along Dogue Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River. According to Chris Hill, current president of the Dragonfly Society of the AmericasStylurus plagiatus “is a species of bigger rivers.” Chris speculates this Russet-tipped Clubtail probably emerged from the Potomac River and flew upstream along Dogue Creek to JMAWR.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

22 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of his abdomen, and his terminal appendages.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

22 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I turned my camera at an unusual angle (somewhere between landscape and portrait) in order to get a better view of the dragonfly’s face, shown below. “Hanging Clubtails” is the common name for the genus Stylurus. As the name suggests, hanging clubtails typically perch with their abdomen hanging down, in contrast with many genera of clubtails that perch horizontally on the ground.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

22 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

The last photo is my favorite of the set.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

22 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Unicorns in unexpected places (Part 2)

September 24, 2016

I visited Mason Neck West Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA for the first time on 02 July 2016. There is a small, shallow man-made water retention pond at the park that provides perfect habitat for Unicorn Clubtail dragonflies (Arigomphus villosipes), like the one featured in this photo gallery.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his unique terminal appendages.

Mud flats (shown above) and algal mats (shown in the first and last photos) — sounds like a haven Unicorn Clubtails!

Notice the gas bubbles in the preceding photo. Algal mats release oxygen gas. I wonder whether Unicorn Clubtails enjoy the oxygenated air directly above algal mats, much like football players are refreshed by breathing from an oxygen mask on the sidelines after a long run.

Related Resource: Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park, provides good guidance regarding the right habitat for Unicorn Clubtails at his excellent Web site, Dragonflies of Northern Virginia.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Unicorns in unexpected places (Part 1)

September 22, 2016

I visited Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA for the first time on 18 June 2016. I found the Calico Pennant dragonflies (Celithemis elisa) that I was looking for at Painted Turtle Pond; I was surprised when I spotted one or more Unicorn Clubtail dragonflies (Arigomphus villosipes) at the same pond!

A Unicorn Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus villosipes) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Unicorn Clubtail (male)

All of the individuals in this gallery are males, as indicated by their unique terminal appendages: the epiproct is a large “plate” that spans both cerci.

A Unicorn Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus villosipes) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Unicorn Clubtail (male)

A Unicorn Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus villosipes) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Unicorn Clubtail (male)

Like all male clubtail dragonflies, the hind wings of male Unicorn Clubtails are “indented” near the body; this distinctive field marker isn’t shown well by any of the photos in this gallery except the following shot.

A Unicorn Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus villosipes) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Unicorn Clubtail (male)

The juxtaposition of man-made and natural objects is visually appealing in the next photo.

A Unicorn Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus villosipes) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Unicorn Clubtail (male)

A Unicorn Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus villosipes) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Unicorn Clubtail (male)

A Unicorn Clubtail dragonfly (Arigomphus villosipes) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Unicorn Clubtail (male)

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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