The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
Home Page Search Odonate Resources
LoginNC Biodiversity Project

North Carolina's 189 Odonate species

«      »

Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Related Species in GOMPHIDAE: Number of records for 2022 = 23
Added in 2022 from a previous year = 4

PDF has more details,
e.g., flight data, high counts, and earliest/latest dates can be seen.
[View PDF]
Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus) by Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin
Compare with: Black-shouldered Spinyleg   Riverine Clubtail  
Identification Tips: Move the cursor over the image, or tap the image if using a mobile device, to reveal ID Tips.
Note: these identification tips apply to both sexes. Female depicted here.

[Google images]
Click on county for list of all its records for Dragonhunter
Flight Charts
Distribution Nearly statewide, though apparently absent from the northeastern and far eastern parts of the state. No records east of Hertford, Martin, and Craven counties. Of spotty distribution in the southwestern mountains, for no obvious reason, as the species occurs over most of the eastern US.
Abundance Generally fairly common in the mountains and foothills, uncommon to fairly common over most of the Piedmont, but uncommon in the Coastal Plain. Despite its very wide range -- found in most NC counties, it is seldom really common and not nearly as often seen as the Lancet and Ashy clubtails (though the Dragonhunter flies later in the season than those two).
Flight Mainly from mid-May (rarely as early as late April) to late September; most often seen from early June to early September.
Habitat Generally breeds at swift-flowing streams and rivers, rarely at lakes. Prefers forested waters as opposed to very wide, sunny streams.
Behavior Males often patrol conspicuously up and down the middle of a river or large stream, easily recognized by its very large size and unusual habit of curling the tip of the abdomen downward into a "J" shape. They also perch on bare ground and vegetation, at times allowing for easy observation.
Comments This is one of the largest of all dragonflies, and the male's habit of flying with the abdomen tip curled in a "J" shape makes it undoubtedly the easiest of the clubtails to identify on the wing. As the common name implies, it is quite predatory on other species of dragonflies, their main quarry. The species is monotypic -- the only species in its genus.
State Rank S5
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2021-12-22 10:37:00

Photo Gallery for Dragonhunter   47 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Kevin Metcalf

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2022-07-06, - One photographed, Neck Road in Huntersville
Photo 2 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Watauga, 2022-07-02, Brookshire Park
Photo 3 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2022-06-17, Haw River--Bynum Dam
Photo 4 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2022-05-15, Haw River--Bynum Dam - recently emerged, with exuvia
Photo 5 by: Jan Hansen

Comment: Moore; C, 2020-09-02, Lake Bagget
Photo 6 by: Jan Hansen

Comment: Orange, 2020-07-29, Brumley Forest North-Near the graveyard - eating a Monarch
Photo 7 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2019-05-30, Eno River State Park (ENRI) Cole Mill Section along powerline. - Female.
Photo 8 by: Pete Dixon

Comment: Madison, 2019-05-29, River Road, 1:30-4:30 pm, Broadwing farm to Murray Branch, sunny, high 80s
Photo 9 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Hoke, 2018-09-03, Lumber River, from Wagram Boating Access Area to Lumber River State Park - Chalk Banks boat ramp and back, by kayak
Photo 10 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Alleghany, 2018-07-15, New River @ SR 1345 (Farmers Fish Camp Rd.)
Photo 11 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Anson, 2018-07-06, Pee Dee River; 2 km stretch upstream from Diggs Tract Access, by kayak
Photo 12 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Yadkin, 2018-06-03, Pilot Mountain State Park - Yadkin River section
Photo 13 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Yadkin, 2018-06-03, Pilot Mountain State Park - Yadkin River section
Photo 14 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Duplin, 2017-09-24, Northeast Cape Fear River, from Chinquapin Boating Access Area to 3 km upstream and 1 km downstream, by kayak
Photo 15 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2017-08-17, Carrier Park, Asheville - Female
Photo 16 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Graham, 2017-07-19, Cheoah River just below Santeetlah Dam at the boat launch. - Male. Preying on male Widow Skimmer. First record for Graham County
Photo 17 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Watauga, 2017-07-05, Brookshire Park
Photo 18 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Jones, 2017-06-24, - Two females spotted attacking other odonates and perching along the Trent River.
Photo 19 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Rutherford; P, 2017-06-02, Morse Park, Lake Lure
Photo 20 by: Richard Stickney

Comment: Bladen, 2017-05-22, South River, Sloan's Bridge boat launch - teneral female
Photo 21 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Robeson, 2016-08-27, Lumber River, between Boardman Boating Access and Lumber River State Park Princess Ann Access
Photo 22 by: Mark Swanson

Comment: Avery, 2016-07-28, - Male photographed near Linville River.
Photo 23 by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin

Comment: Yancey, 2016-07-26, Along Dam Road and the Cane River in Burnsville.
Photo 24 by: Richard Stickney

Comment: Wilkes; P, 2016-07-25, Stone Mountain State Park - all males
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Jones, 2016-06-04, White Oak River between Quarry lakes and Dixon Field Landing
Photo 26 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Bladen, 2016-05-27, Black River
Photo 27 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Brunswick, 2015-09-05, Waccamaw River - along 4 km stretch upstream of NC 904 bridge
Photo 28 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2015-08-29, Southwest Creek by kayak, from tidal marsh to swamp forest
Photo 29 by: Conrad Wernett, Alyssa Wernett

Comment: Onslow, 2015-08-15, single female found ovipositing in Cowhorn Creek.
Photo 30 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2015-08-09, Black River by kayak, between NC 53/11 bridge and Hunts Bluff Wildlife ramp