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 for 2024-00-00 = 6

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Cocoa Clubtail (Gomphurus hybridus) by Mark Shields
Compare with: Splendid Clubtail   Cobra Clubtail   Blackwater Clubtail   Septima's 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 Cocoa Clubtail
Flight Charts
Distribution Present over much of the central and western Coastal Plain and eastern/central portion of the Piedmont, but with large gaps in the range (such as the well-studied northeastern Piedmont). The range in the Coastal Plain is expanding northward, as many new records came from the Roanoke River area in 2012; the species was previously known northward only to the Neuse River area. In fact, until 2013, Virginia had no records; however, there are now five records for the southeastern and central parts of that state. A number of new records have also been made in the Piedmont in recent years, including first county records for Richmond and Forsyth in 2019, Anson in 2020, and our westernmost county in Catawba in 2021. Thus, it seems that the species is expanding the range westward into the Piedmont, as well as moving northward in the Coastal Plain. Still, the lack of records for the northeastern Piedmont is puzzling, as this is a highly worked area of the state, though a few records should be made there in the next handful of years.
Abundance Common, at least locally, along the upper part of the Roanoke River (Halifax and Northampton counties). Uncommon and local in the central and southern parts of the Coastal Plain, but rare and local in the Piedmont portion of the range. Dunkle (2000) considers the species to be fairly common, whereas in GA Beaton (2007) say it is uncommon in the Coastal Plain but rare elsewhere.
Flight Spring season only; the known dates in NC range from 28 March to 31 May. The flight is earlier in the Coastal Plain, starting in late March, whereas the first Piedmont records are not until late April.
Habitat Large or medium rivers with silty or sandy bottoms. Most sites are along brownwater rivers, but a few have been at blackwater sites.

See also Habitat Account for General Rivers and Large Streams
Behavior Males spend little time in flight patrols over the water. Teneral individuals, as well as adults, often forage hundreds of yards away from rivers, such as along clearings, dirt tracks, and forest openings. It is an unwary species and can be easily approached on the ground.
Comments This is one of the relatively few clubtails to be found along slow-moving rivers and large creeks in the Coastal Plain. (The majority of clubtails are found in the mountains and Piedmont, and near faster waters.) Steve Hall and Harry LeGrand found it commonly on several spring dates in 2012 at sites within 1/2-mile of the Roanoke River, for a notable northward range extension. As it has been found in VA in 2013, 2016, and 2017, it is obviously moving northward.

The species is still on the NC Natural Heritage Program Watch List, but as it is clearly moving northward, if not also westward into the central Piedmont, it is uncertain if it will remain on that list. As there are now 57 records (with dates) as of 2022, the species probably no longer needs to remain on the Watch List.
State Rank S3
State Status W
Global Rank G4
Federal Status
Synonym Gomphus hybridus
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-24 15:06:58

Photo Gallery for Cocoa Clubtail   31 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Jeffrey Pippen, Harry LeGrand

Comment: Halifax, 2024-05-07, Definitely unwary! Two on trail. One on rock in river. - Roanoke Canal Trail & Weldon Boat Ramp
Photo 2 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips, Lucas Wilson

Comment: Richmond; P, 2024-04-28, Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge; Andrews Pond to Pee Dee River
Photo 3 by: Al Hooks

Comment: Johnston, 2024-04-23, site that borders the Neuse River, about 2 miles N of Smithfield
Photo 4 by: Kevin Metcalf

Comment: Stanly, 2023-05-07, Rocky River downstream of Plank Road bridge. - At least two males present - perching on rocks.
Photo 5 by: Lori Arent, Harry LeGrand

Comment: Bladen, 2023-04-21, several locations in Bladen County - Tar Heel boat ramp at the Cape Fear River; photo by Lori Arent
Photo 6 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Cumberland, 2023-04-01, Cape Fear River - boat access on Person St. in Fayetteville - tenerals
Photo 7 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Edgecombe, 2022-05-22, Tar River--Tarboro section, from NC 33 to Shiloh Mills
Photo 8 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2022-04-22, Deep River--McIver Landing to Deep River Park (by kayak) - county record; 3 netted and 3 photod, more likely present
Photo 9 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Lee, 2022-04-22, Deep River--McIver Landing to Deep River Park (by kayak) - county record; 3 netted and 3 photod, more likely present
Photo 10 by: calebb (iNaturalist username)

Comment: Pitt, 2021-05-16, Greenville. Along the Tar River at River Park North; coordinates ca. 35.6162209, -77.3615944. iNaturalist record #7900845 - Male
Photo 11 by: Tiffany Huffman

Comment: Catawba, 2021-05-01, Catawba River at Riverbend Park. iNaturalist record 77042277 posted by John Petranka - male
Photo 12 by: Tiffany Huffman

Comment: Catawba, 2021-05-01, Catawba River at Riverbend Park. iNaturalist record 77042277 posted by John Petranka - male
Photo 13 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Anson, 2020-05-02, Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge - Leak's Ferry Rd.
Photo 14 by: Will Stuart

Comment: Anson, 2020-04-26, Leaks Ferry Road near the Pee Dee River overlook, Pee Dee NWR - Poor angle, could not approach.
Photo 15 by: Mark Kosiewski

Comment: Bertie, 2019-05-05, Roanoke River at Conine Bend, just northeast of Williamston. - Male.
Photo 16 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Martin, 2019-05-04, Roanoke River at Conine Bend, just northeast of Williamston (same individual as Mark K. uploaded for Bertie Co.)
Photo 17 by: Harry LeGrand, Bruce Smithson, et al.

Comment: Richmond; P, 2019-05-03, Pee Dee River Game Land at the Diggs tract boat ramp - Bruce Smithson photo
Photo 18 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Bladen, 2019-04-16, Jones Lake State Park (JONE) - males. One perched on gravel road at boat ramp, other on trail to fishing pier
Photo 19 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Caswell, 2018-05-31, Dan River @ NC 57 - female
Photo 20 by: E. Corey, H. Wallace

Comment: Duplin, 2018-05-14, Found on private property along the NE Cape Fear River
Photo 21 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Davie, 2018-04-22, S. Yadkin River @ Cooleemee boating access - male netted photographed and released
Photo 22 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Bladen, 2017-04-16, Cape Fear River at Lock and Dam #2, Elizabethtown
Photo 23 by: Rick Cheicante

Comment: Halifax; P, 2015-05-03
Photo 24 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Bladen, 2014-05-25, - 1 male, 1 female
Photo 25 by: Timothy Deering

Comment: Pender, 2014-04-21, NE Cape Fear River, Holly Shelter Game Land
Photo 26 by: Doug Johnston

Comment: Bladen, 2013-04-26, Cape Fear River, Elwell ferry crossing
Photo 27 by: Steve Hall and Harry LeGrand

Comment: Northampton, 2012-05-08, Observed along a gravel road leading to the Confederate Earth Works on the Roanoke River
Photo 28 by: Steve Hall and Harry LeGrand

Comment: Halifax; C, 2012-04-12, - Common in powerline clearing and light gaps in forest adjacent to Roanoke River
Photo 29 by: Beth Brinson

Comment: Davidson, 2008-05-10, Male
Photo 30 by: R Emmitt

Comment: Lenoir, 2002-05-03, Neuseway Nature Park