Gomphus kurilis
Pacific Clubtail is a denizen of rushing rivers in the mountains. It is an early flier, present only the spring, when males sit on rocks in the streams and chase females, or defend against other males, with short, bounding flights.
Pacific Clubtail is named for the expanded tip of the abdomen, most exaggerated in males (above & left). The abdomen has a complex pattern of black-and-yellow, but the pattern is quite different than Bison Snaketail which can share the same habitat in spring. Also, unlike the snaketail, the thorax is essentially the same color as the abdomen – a dull yellow, cream, or pale greenish-yellow – and not a contrasting bright green. Further, the thorax has two dorsolateral stripes, not just one, and a broad slashing side stripe. The eyes are blue and are perhaps the most striking part of the front half of this ode. As in all our gomphids, the wings are clear.
Photos (above) 12 May 2007 North fork San Antonio River
Photo (below) 29 Apr 2007 North fork San Antonio River

Until 2007, there was only one record of Pacific Clubtail in Monterey County. A specimen in the Bohart collection at U.C. Davis was collected along the Arroyo Seco River on 27 May 1974, possibly by Robert M. Bohart himself.

On 29 Apr 2007, Don Roberson found the Pacific Clubtail shown above on the upper San Antonio River. It was sharing a rock with a Bullfrog and, concerned that the frog would eat the ode before it could be documented, Roberson splashed right into the river, boots and all, to snap this shot. Both clubtail and frog departed without further ado. Up to 8 Pacific Clubtails were found along this same stretch of river the following weekend.

An interesting feature of Pacific Clubtail is that the younger individuals are a lot brighter in color than the full adults. The immature males (right and below) are bright school-crossing yellow, unlike the much more subdued colors of the territorial males shown above. All the young clubtails shown (right and below) were along trails through the woods, and not at territorial breeding spots along a nearby creek. Females also spend almost all their time away from the streams and rivers.

Photo (right) 15 Apr 2007 Gibson Ranch Co. Park, Sacramento Co.
Photo (below) 15 Apr 2007 Miners Ravine Reserve, Placer Co.

The map shows the currently known location for Pacific Clubtail in MTY: along the Arroyo Seco and upper San Antonio rivers. It likely occurs on many (all?) of the major streams running out of the Santa Lucias. This species occurs along rivers and on lakes throughout the mountains of both the Sierran and Coast ranges of northern California. MTY is its southernmost known locale in the Coast Range [it occurs south to Madera Co. in the Sierra Nevada].

Pacific Clubtail has an early flight season, ranging from April through July (Manolis 2003). The known dates in MTY are 29 Apr–13 May.

Literature cited:
  • Manolis, T. 2003. Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley.
Web resources:
Major identification web sites with much information on California odes include: For sites with excellent photos to compare for identification or to simply enjoy, see: Many of these sites have links to other useful pages. Kathy Biggs's site is particularly useful in her selection of links.

All photos © Don Roberson 2007


Page created 8 Mar 2007, revised 16 May 2007