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

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Related Species in GOMPHIDAE: Number of records added in 2021 = 6

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Blackwater Clubtail (Gomphurus dilatatus) by Mark Shields
Compare with: Cobra Clubtail   Splendid Clubtail   Midland Clubtail   Septima's Clubtail   Cocoa Clubtail  
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Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Blackwater Clubtail
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distribution Scattered over most of the state, though lacking of records in the northeastern and far eastern counties. Apparently absent over most of the mountains, at least over roughly 2,000 feet elevation. Perhaps occurs in most Piedmont counties, but barely 11-12 counties there are known at present. Seemingly most widespread in the southern Coastal Plain.
abundance Locally uncommon in the southern portions of the Coastal Plain, but rare northward in that province to the Roanoke River area (with few recent records in this region). Very rare to locally rare over most of the Piedmont, with a remarkable flurry of records from the western and central Piedmont in 2018. Casual in the mountains, where first recorded in 2017. With more canoeing and kayaking efforts, observers have been finding the species in some numbers now, including daily counts of 30 in 2016 and 17 in 2019, indicating that it can be reasonably common in a few places in the southeastern counties.
flight Mid-April to at least mid-July in the Coastal Plain, and from early June into mid-July in the Piedmont and mountains. There is a sight report from the Piedmont for mid-August, though the latest specimen or photo record is only to mid-July.
habitat Slow-moving rivers or streams with sandy or silty bottoms. Though the common name suggests it is not normally found along brownwater rivers, such is not the case in NC. Of course, all Piedmont and mountain records are from brownwater areas, and a few in the Coastal Plain are as well, such as along the Cape Fear River. A recent record from Lake Waccamaw (at the spillway/dam) presumably relates to an individual using the headwaters of the Waccamaw River as breeding habitat.
behavior Males perch on leaves or branches close to the water, or over the water.
comments This is one of the larger clubtails, and the wide club also adds to its striking appearance. However, it can be confused with the Cobra Clubtail. Mark Shields provided the first notable count of the species, seeing and photographing about 30 individuals as he was canoeing down the Black River along the Bladen - Pender county line on 27 May 2016. Recent review by our website editors have determined that one or two photos previously identified as Blackwater Clubtails are actually Cobra Clubtails. And, that puts into jeopardy any sight reports of this species, due to the great confusion of these two species; the Mecklenburg County and the Martin/Bertie (i.e., Roanoke River) reports should be considered as tenuous, and certainly not definitive. However, Vin Stanton made a remarkable discovery in July 2017, by photographing a female Blackwater Clubtail in Buncombe County near the French Broad River. And, a number of biologists have found the species in 2018 in the central and western Piedmont, documenting the records with photos. The OdonataCentral database has a single record for eastern TN in the Ridge and Valley province, but otherwise the Buncombe record fills in a large gap in the range in the southern Appalachians (between eastern TN and west-central NC).

Considering the great number of recent records of the species from the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, the N.C. Natural Heritage Program has moved the species off its Watch List, in late 2020. The State Rank has been moved down to S3S4, also.
state_status
S_rank S3S4
fed_status
G_rank G5
date_spread [Overwinter:] [Date Spread:] [No Late Date:] [Split on Feb:] [Default:]
synonym Gomphus dilatatus
other_name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2021-07-28 14:19:37

Photo Gallery for Blackwater Clubtail   33 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Tiffany Huffman

Comment: Catawba, 2021-06-16, Riverbend Park, outside park office. Female. iNaturalist record 83323876. First record for county.
Photo 2 by: Rachel Malmgren

Comment: Transylvania, 2021-06-11, Town of Pisgah Forest. iNaturalist record #82600937 - Male
Photo 3 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Pender, 2021-05-24, Black River downstream of Hunts Bluff
Photo 4 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Pender, 2021-05-24, Black River downstream of Hunts Bluff
Photo 5 by: Richard Stickney

Comment: Wake, 2019-06-10, Falls Lake tailrace area - Male on rock in river
Photo 6 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Sampson, 2019-05-24, Black River, from Ivanhoe Boating Access Area to 4.5 km upstream and back, by kayak. - First record for county.
Photo 7 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Sampson, 2019-05-24, Black River, from Ivanhoe Boating Access Area to 4.5 km upstream and back, by kayak. - First record for county.
Photo 8 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Harnett; C, 2018-07-13, Cape Fear River Trail Park, Erwin - female
Photo 9 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Yadkin, 2018-07-13, Jonesville Greenway, Yadkin River
Photo 10 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Davie, 2018-07-07, Bullhole River Park
Photo 11 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Davie, 2018-07-07, Bullhole River Park
Photo 12 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Anson, 2018-07-06, Pee Dee River; 2 km stretch upstream from Diggs Tract Access, by kayak. First record for county.
Photo 13 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Richmond; P, 2018-07-06, Pee Dee River; 2 km stretch upstream from Diggs Tract Access, by kayak - male. First record for county.
Photo 14 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Rowan, 2018-07-03, Bullhole River Park; S. Yadkin River - ad.male
Photo 15 by: R Emmitt

Comment: Wake, 2018-06-10, Neuse River below Falls Lake Dam. - photo on a rock just below the dam.
Photo 16 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Surry, 2018-06-07, Crater Park, Yadkin River, Elkin
Photo 17 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Surry, 2018-06-07, Crater Park, Yadkin River, Elkin, NC
Photo 18 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2017-07-04, Imaged at Hominy Creek about 75 yards from French Broad River - Female
Photo 19 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2017-07-04, Imaged at Hominy Creek about 75 yards from French Broad River - Female
Photo 20 by: Conrad Wernett, Alyssa Wernett

Comment: Columbus, 2017-05-28, - Lake Waccamaw. Males perched on sunny structure from spillway into river downstream.
Photo 21 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Duplin, 2017-05-27, Northeast Cape Fear River between Chinquapin Boat Access and Wayne's Landing Boat Access, by kayak. First record for county.
Photo 22 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Columbus, 2017-05-20, - Lake Waccamaw. Males perched on sunny structure from spillway into river downstream, single female netted at the spillway.
Photo 23 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2017-05-19, Northeast Cape Fear River between Sawpit Landing Boating Access Area and mouth of Ashes Creek
Photo 24 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2017-05-19, Northeast Cape Fear River between Sawpit Landing Boating Access Area and mouth of Ashes Creek
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Robeson, 2017-05-17, Lumber River State Park (LURI) Princess Ann Access, trails - male perched on observation deck at Griffin's Whirl
Photo 26 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Robeson, 2017-05-17, Lumber River; Lumber River State Park - Princess Ann Access to Fair Bluff Boating Access Area by kayak
Photo 27 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Columbus, 2017-05-17, Lumber River; LURI Princess Ann Access to Fair Bluff Boating Access Area by kayak
Photo 28 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Brunswick, 2017-04-12, Waccamaw River from Pireway Boating Access Area to 6 km upstream - male with atypical interrupted T3
Photo 29 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Brunswick, 2016-06-20, Female. Waccamaw River from Pireway Boating Access to 6 km upstream
Photo 30 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Columbus, 2016-06-20, Male. Waccamaw River from Pireway Boating Access to 6 km upstream