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pronghorn clubtail

pronghorn clubtail (Phanogomphus graslinellus) [male]
Photos © Mary Kay Rubey

Features and Behaviors

The pronghorn clubtail is a medium to large (1.5 to 2 inches long) dragonfly with a brightly spotted club. They have blue eyes on a green-yellow face, black legs, and a black and yellow-green stripped thorax. Their abdomen has black, arrow-shaped patterns down each side. They are very similar to the plains clubtail (Gomphurus externus) but are slightly smaller, have slightly shorter hind legs, and have small differences in color and reproductive structures.

The pronghorn clubtail is found around muddy or sandy, slow-moving streams and large to medium lakes. Their flight pattern is rollercoaster like, dipping up and down through the air swiftly. This may be a flight display or adaptation to avoid predators. When not in flight they are seen perching on open ground, rocks, or in shoreline plants. They are among the earliest of dragonflies to emerge in the spring, occurring statewide from May to August. After mating, females deposit fertilized eggs by cruising over the waters’ surface and tapping the water at irregular intervals a few feet apart, depositing 30 to 50 eggs at a time. 

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Family: Gomphidae

Illinois Status: common, native