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

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Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Related Species in GOMPHIDAE: Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 11
Added in 2024-00-00 from a previous years = 2

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e.g., flight data, high counts, and earliest/latest dates can be seen.
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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.

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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 Carteret counties.
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. Though most often seen perching on a rock within the stream, or on vegetation very low to the water, they also perch on bare ground, at times allowing for easy observation. As with a few other large dragonflies, such as Comet Darner, a male Dragonhunter is extremely territorial, and you are not likely to see but a single male patrolling a stretch of river or creek.
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 2023-01-10 10:10:07

Photo Gallery for Dragonhunter   56 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2024-07-07, William O Huske Lock and Dam 3, NC - 3:00PM at edge of the river
Photo 2 by: J.Buie

Comment: Stokes, 2024-06-11, HARO - 2 individuals seen near play wave on the dan river while kayaking @ -80.254689, 36.430874
Photo 3 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2022-06-08, South River Bridge Wildlife Ramp, Garland - 11:00AM - Exuvia on boat ramp
Photo 4 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2023-06-02, Haw River--Bynum Dam (by kayak)
Photo 5 by: Harry LeGrand, Lori Arent

Comment: Richmond; C, 2022-08-17, Sandhills Game Land -- Bagget Lake area - one consuming a Southeastern Spinyleg. Photo by Lori Arent
Photo 6 by: Kevin Metcalf

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2022-07-06, - One photographed, Neck Road in Huntersville
Photo 7 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Watauga, 2022-07-02, Brookshire Park
Photo 8 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2022-06-17, Haw River--Bynum Dam
Photo 9 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2022-05-15, Haw River--Bynum Dam - recently emerged, with exuvia
Photo 10 by: Jan Hansen

Comment: Moore; C, 2020-09-02, Lake Bagget
Photo 11 by: Jan Hansen

Comment: Orange, 2020-07-29, Brumley Forest North-Near the graveyard - eating a Monarch
Photo 12 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2019-05-30, Eno River State Park (ENRI) Cole Mill Section along powerline. - Female.
Photo 13 by: Pete Dixon

Comment: Madison, 2019-05-29, River Road, 1:30-4:30 pm, Broadwing farm to Murray Branch, sunny, high 80s
Photo 14 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 15 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Alleghany, 2018-07-15, New River @ SR 1345 (Farmers Fish Camp Rd.)
Photo 16 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Anson, 2018-07-06, Pee Dee River; 2 km stretch upstream from Diggs Tract Access, by kayak
Photo 17 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Yadkin, 2018-06-03, Pilot Mountain State Park - Yadkin River section
Photo 18 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Yadkin, 2018-06-03, Pilot Mountain State Park - Yadkin River section
Photo 19 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 20 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2017-08-17, Carrier Park, Asheville - Female
Photo 21 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 22 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Watauga, 2017-07-05, Brookshire Park
Photo 23 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Jones, 2017-06-24, - Two females spotted attacking other odonates and perching along the Trent River.
Photo 24 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Burke; M, 2017-06-21, Linville River at Blue Ridge Parkway Linville River Campground. - Males.
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Rutherford; P, 2017-06-02, Morse Park, Lake Lure
Photo 26 by: John Petranka

Comment: Surry, 2017-06-02, Elkin. Elkin City Park, along Big Elkin Creek. Elkin and Alleghany RR Trail. - Male.
Photo 27 by: Richard Stickney

Comment: Bladen, 2017-05-22, South River, Sloan's Bridge boat launch - teneral female
Photo 28 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Robeson, 2016-08-27, Lumber River, between Boardman Boating Access and Lumber River State Park Princess Ann Access
Photo 29 by: Mark Swanson

Comment: Avery, 2016-07-28, - Male photographed near Linville River.
Photo 30 by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin

Comment: Yancey, 2016-07-26, Along Dam Road and the Cane River in Burnsville.