The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 189 Odonate species


Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Our only member of the Family: PETALURIDAE Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 5

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e.g., flight data, high counts, and earliest/latest dates can be seen.
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Gray Petaltail (Tachopteryx thoreyi) by John Petranka
Compare with:   Distinctive
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Note: these identification tips apply to both sexes.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Gray Petaltail
Flight Charts
Distribution Present throughout the mountains and Piedmont; very rare in the Sandhills (only three records), but seemingly absent from nearly all of the remainder of the Coastal Plain.
Abundance Generally uncommon, but may be fairly common, at least locally.
Flight In the Piedmont, late April to mid-July, and sparingly to late July; a later flight in the mountains by a month, from mid-May to mid-August. A recent report for 12 September in the Piedmont is extremely late and probably requires confirmation.
Habitat Breeds in wooded seepages, one of the few dragonflies to breed in seeps. Adults seen in upland forests and edges.

See also Habitat Account for Wet-Mesic Forests with Seepages/Headwater Streams
Behavior Tame. Typically perches vertically on tree trunks, but also perches on humans!
Comments This is a "primitive" species. It is easily identified, as it is the only gray-colored species on the abdomen and as it often gives the observer an excellent view while it perches on tree trunks and other conspicuous places. It was formerly (30+ years ago) thought be be rare (or very poorly known) in the state, but with many more observers afield, the species has been seen frequently, probably not representing a population increase. Though numbers are not overly great for a large dragonfly, its habit of flying to wooded openings in uplands, such as along jeep roads and sunny trails, and perching on tree trunks and humans, makes it readily conspicuous and an "odonate favorite".
State Rank S4
State Status
Global Rank G4
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-09 11:15:20

Photo Gallery for Gray Petaltail   47 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Henderson, 2024-06-26, Ochlawaha Bog
Photo 2 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Henderson, 2024-06-26, Ochlawaha Bog
Photo 3 by: G. McGrane

Comment: Caldwell, 2024-06-11, Forest Road 288, a couple landed on me - Globe Mountain Rd
Photo 4 by: Max Ramey

Comment: Watauga, 2023-07-31, Green Branch (36.151653, -81.723496)
Photo 5 by: Nora Murdock, Robert Emmott

Comment: Swain, 2022-06-06,
Photo 6 by: Marilyn Westphal, Nora Murdock

Comment: Polk; M, 2022-05-19, Seen perched on large tree trunk, Green River Gamelands
Photo 7 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: McDowell; M, 2021-07-10, Old Fort - Female and Male
Photo 8 by: Tim Lewis

Comment: Jackson, 2021-07-02, NW of Dillsboro on Piney Mountain Road, iNat record# 85361980
Photo 9 by: Denise Williams

Comment: Caldwell, 2021-06-06, Along Craig Creek Road NW of Wilson Creek at Lat: 35.957104 Lon: -81.774248. iNaturalist record # 82046236. - Male
Photo 10 by: L. Arent

Comment: Wilkes; M, 2021-06-02, - Buck Mountain Pond near Maple Springs, at least 2 possibly more.
Photo 11 by: Graydon Nance

Comment: Henderson, 2020-07-20, 35.2293, -82.47953. elevation about 2700’
Photo 12 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2020-06-02, Hot Springs area, French Broad River
Photo 13 by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger

Comment: Wilkes; M, 2020-06-02
Photo 14 by: Tim Lewis

Comment: Rutherford; P, 2019-06-14, West of Rutherfordton, River Road West of the Broad River, iNat record# 27000395
Photo 15 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Transylvania, 2019-05-28
Photo 16 by: A. Rawlings

Comment: Gaston, 2019-05-14; Crowders Mountain State Park
Photo 17 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Polk; M, 2019-05-13, along Green River near Big Rock take-out, Green River Game Land. First record for county.
Photo 18 by: Owen McConnell

Comment: Graham, 2018-07-02, Tulula Wetlands
Photo 19 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt.

Comment: Macon, 2018-06-27, Chattooga River about 150 meters upstream from the Iron Bridge on Bull Pen Road - Female. Landed on Sally. First record for county.
Photo 20 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Stokes, 2018-06-16, Jessup Mill Public Fishing Area; Dan River
Photo 21 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Yancey, 2018-06-16
Photo 22 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Alleghany, 2018-06-03, Stone Mountain State Park - path off end of campground Loop B
Photo 23 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Alleghany, 2018-06-03, Stone Mountain State Park - path off end of campground Loop B
Photo 24 by: Matt Roberts

Comment: Forsyth, 2018-06-02, North of Clemmons, just south of Ashburn Circle.
Photo 25 by: Robert Gilson

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2018-05-31
Photo 26 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Alleghany, 2015-07-14, Stone Mountain State Park (STMO). - Landed at our campsite, Loop B.
Photo 27 by: Conrad Wernett, Alyssa Wernett

Comment: Richmond; C, 2015-06-14, Single female found in Lake McKinney drainage
Photo 28 by: John Petranka

Comment: Durham, 2015-06-05, Hill Demonstration Forest. Flat River at State Forest Rd. bridge. - Male. Perched on concrete bridge approach. Very tame.
Photo 29 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: McDowell; M, 2015-05-29, along US Hwy 221 at Coats Factory; 35.834498; -82.002152
Photo 30 by: Jim Petranka

Comment: Madison, 2015-05-29, On tree trunk along the Ivy River.