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 = 9

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Spine-crowned Clubtail (Hylogomphus abbreviatus) by John Petranka
Compare with: Banner Clubtail   Piedmont Clubtail  
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Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Spine-crowned Clubtail
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distribution Found only in the central and eastern Piedmont and the extreme southwestern corner of the Coastal Plain (at least in the Sandhills).
abundance Rare to uncommon in the eastern half of the Piedmont, and very rare in the southwestern Coastal Plain. However, it is easily overlooked or confused with other species. It can be common at a very few sites, as there are three recent double-digit counts, and another of 8 individuals, in three counties. Duncan Cuyler made several dozen collections in the lower Piedmont a few decades ago; but until about 2016, however, very little was known about this species in NC. Thankfully, the past few years have seen quite a few new records, many documented by photographs. The recent spate of photographic records for the northeastern Piedmont, as opposed to the central and southern Piedmont, might be due to the preponderance of observers in that part of the province.
flight Spring season only. The flight occurs from very late March to early June, though there was a late March record in 2020. The peak was formerly during the first 20 days of May, but there are many recent April records, and our three highest counts are now in April.
habitat This is another riverine species, favoring fast-flowing rivers and large streams.

See also Habitat Account for Piedmont and General Rocky Rivers
behavior Seen mainly at or near streams, on rocks or vegetation. Dunkle (2000) states that males are most active in the late afternoon.
comments As with most clubtails, even ones with a range in the eastern Piedmont (where the greatest number of odonate biologists live and conduct field work), this is a somewhat poorly known species, at least by observers and photographers. Most clubtails are difficult to identify unless netted or collected and then studied in the hand. This species looks quite similar to the Piedmont Clubtail, and it can also be confused with Banner Clubtail. Though its range extends from SC northward into Canada, it has a somewhat narrow east-west range, barely ranging west to OH. We have had a number of recent records, thankfully, and thus its range and abundance are becoming better known. Nonetheless, the species remains on the N.C. Natural Heritage Program's Watch List.
state_status W
S_rank S3S4
fed_status
G_rank G4
date_spread [Overwinter:] [Date Spread:] [No Late Date:] [Split on Feb:] [Default:]
synonym Gomphus abbreviatus
other_name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2021-07-28 14:30:18

Photo Gallery for Spine-crowned Clubtail   31 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Montgomery, 2021-04-30, Uwharrie River at Low Water Bridge
Photo 2 by: John Petranka

Comment: Granville, 2021-04-28, Tar River at Wilton Slopes - Male
Photo 3 by: Harry LeGrand, Lori Arent

Comment: Durham, 2021-04-26, Hill Forest - at Flat River, next to bridge
Photo 4 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2021-04-11, Haw River upstream of the Bynum Dam flatwater
Photo 5 by: Jan Hansen

Comment: Chatham, 2021-04-07, White Pines Preserve - Teneral along the river trail
Photo 6 by: Leah Purvis

Comment: Chatham, 2020-04-03, Lower Haw River State Natural Area. Along Lower Haw River Trail about 0.5 miles downstream from Bynum trailhead. Lat: 35.766 Long: -79.135 - Male.
Photo 7 by: Will Bennett

Comment: Durham, 2020-03-28, Along the Eno River at Penny's Bend Nature Preserve. - Male.
Photo 8 by: John Petranka

Comment: Caswell, 2019-04-30, NC 62 at Country Line Creek. About 1.2 miles south of Main Street in Yanceyville. - Males.
Photo 9 by: John Petranka

Comment: Caswell, 2019-04-30, NC 62 at Country Line Creek. About 1.2 miles south of Main Street in Yanceyville. - Males.
Photo 10 by: John Petranka

Comment: Caswell, 2019-04-30, NC 62 at Country Line Creek. About 1.2 miles south of Main Street in Yanceyville. - Males.
Photo 11 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2018-05-11, Eno River, Eno River State Park - Pleasant Green Access. - Male.
Photo 12 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2018-05-11, Eno River, Eno River State Park - Pleasant Green Access. - Male.
Photo 13 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2018-05-11, Eno River, Eno River SP Pleasant Green Access. - Male.
Photo 14 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Alamance, 2018-04-14, Haw River @ NC 54, Graham Paddle Access - tenerals; 2 male & 4 female netted, ID'd and released; 8 other unid. tenerals flying around resembling Spine-crowned, 35 Hylogomphus sp. exuvia along about 500 feet of river bank
Photo 15 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Alamance, 2018-04-12, Haw River @ NC 54, Graham Paddle Access - teneral female; netted, photographed and released
Photo 16 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Alamance, 2018-04-12, Haw River @ NC 54, Graham Paddle Access - teneral female; netted, photographed and released
Photo 17 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Davie, 2017-06-02, South Yadkin River at Bullhole River Park, Cooleemee. - Female. Found dead below the dam. First photo shows lateral view and macros show the short spines at the base of the occiput and short basal plate.
Photo 18 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Davie, 2017-06-02, South Yadkin River at Bullhole River Park, Cooleemee. - Female. Found dead below the dam. First photo shows lateral view and macros show the short spines at the base of the occiput and short basal plate.
Photo 19 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Alamance, 2017-04-15, - Several males seen/photographed along Haw River at Swepsonville River Park
Photo 20 by: John Petranka

Comment: Durham, 2017-04-03, Eno River State Park, Cole Mill section. Along the powerline corridor between Old Cole Mill Road and Bobbit Hole area. - Both sexes. Female photographed. Females can be difficult to separate from other Hylogomphus species, so macros are included showing the diagnostic short basal plate and the short spines at the base of the occiput.
Photo 21 by: John Petranka

Comment: Durham, 2017-04-03, Eno River State Park, Cole Mill section. Along the powerline corridor between Old Cole Mill Road and Bobbit Hole area. - Both sexes. Female photographed. Females can be difficult to separate from other Hylogomphus species, so macros are included showing the diagnostic short basal plate and the short spines at the base of the occiput.
Photo 22 by: John Petranka

Comment: Durham, 2016-04-11, Eno River State Park Cole Mill section along Cole Mill Trail near county line. Female. No males seen. Photo.
Photo 23 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2016-04-10, Eno River State Park Cole Mill section along Bobbit Hole Trail. 2 females, no males seen. Photo.
Photo 24 by: John Petranka

Comment: Montgomery, 2016-04-05, Uwharrie National Forest along FS Rd. 555 just downstream from confluence of Moccasin Creek with Uwharrie River. Males and females.
Photo 25 by: John Petranka

Comment: Montgomery, 2016-04-05, Uwharrie National Forest along FS Rd. 555 just downstream from confluence of Moccasin Creek with Uwharrie River. Males and females. Photo.
Photo 26 by: John Petranka

Comment: Montgomery, 2016-04-05, Uwharrie NF along FS Rd. 555 just downstream from confluence of Moccasin Creek with Uwharrie River. Males and females. Photo.
Photo 27 by: John Petranka

Comment: Montgomery, 2016-04-05, Uwharrie National Forest along FS Rd. 555 just downstream from confluence of Moccasin Creek with Uwharrie River. Males and females. Photo.
Photo 28 by: Kyle Kittelberger

Comment: Wake, 2012-04-16, Below Falls Dam along the Neuse River
Photo 29 by: Kyle Kittelberger

Comment: Wake, 2012-04-16, Below Falls Dam along the Neuse River
Photo 30 by: Matthew Daw

Comment: Wake, 2010-05-10, Falls Lake - Neuse River below dam