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 CORDULEGASTRIDAE: Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 3
Added in 2024-00-00 from a previous year = 1

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e.g., flight data, high counts, and earliest/latest dates can be seen.
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Arrowhead Spiketail (Cordulegaster obliqua) by Floyd Williams, Signa Williams
Compare with: Twin-spotted Spiketail   Tiger Spiketail   Brown Spiketail  
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 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 Arrowhead Spiketail
Flight Charts
Distribution Though reference books show the range of the species to occur statewide (and across most of the Eastern US), NC records fall only in the Piedmont, and a few widely scattered areas in the Coastal Plain. Ranges west to Surry, Catawba, and Mecklenburg counties in the Piedmont; and it ranges east to Gates and Onslow counties in the Coastal Plain, but most records fall in the northeastern portion of the Piedmont (which could be a bias in observer coverage).
Abundance Uncommon in the eastern third of the Piedmont, rare in the central Piedmont, and very rare in the narrow Coastal Plain portion of the range. Possibly just a stray to the eastern Coastal Plain; this is an easily identified and quite large species, so it is not being overlooked in the Coastal Plain.
Flight The flight occurs during the two months from late April to late June (and sparingly to mid-July), with the peak in the latter half of May.
Habitat Very small streams and seeps, in wooded/shaded habitats.

See also Habitat Account for Wet-Mesic Forests with Seepages/Headwater Streams
Behavior As with all spiketails, adults often forage long distances from their forested streams. The species is most often seen along wooded trails or roads, or in powerline clearings, perching low to the ground on a twig. However, unlike other spiketails, it has a habit of flying off high, often over trees, once disturbed.
Comments This, the largest of our four spiketails in NC, is always a thrill to see. Its dorsal yellow abdominal markings (not paired as in other spiketails) indeed look like arrowheads, rendering it easy to identify. Fortunately, it is not overly scarce in the eastern Piedmont; an active observer there has a reasonable chance to encounter it each year. Conrad Wernett photographed one far to the east of the previously known range in Onslow County, in July 2017. Not only was this far east of the previously known range, but the mid-July date is the latest date known for the species! It is too soon to say if the regular range of this species extends this far to the east, as nearly all records are for the Piedmont and the far western Coastal Plain.
State Rank S3
State Status
Global Rank G4
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-10 15:04:09

Photo Gallery for Arrowhead Spiketail   18 photos are shown. Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Lucas Wilson

Comment: Richmond; C, 2024-06-04, - Sandhills Gameland Block A, drainage near Ledbetter Rd west of the Field House - male. First Richmond County record.
Photo 2 by: Paul Hart, Sarah Stevens

Comment: Alamance, 2024-05-25, Snow Camp
Photo 3 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2024-05-17, Johnston Mill Preserve. Feeding in powerline clearing. - Male
Photo 4 by: Jedda Levy

Comment: Durham, 2022-06-28, Leigh Farm Park, 35.9225414, -78.9824771, iNaturalist record # 124575212 - Ovipositing female
Photo 5 by: Meg Henschel

Comment: Alamance, 2022-05-24, At residence adjoining Rock Creek, Conners Court, Burlington. iNaturalist record # 80152240 - Male
Photo 6 by: Casey Wofford

Comment: Jones, 2021-06-09, Croatan Forest near Haywood Landing. iNaturalist record 142414948 - Female
Photo 7 by: Harry LeGrand, Lori Arent

Comment: Granville, 2021-05-20, Butner powerline clearing; photo by Lori Arent
Photo 8 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2020-06-01, Power line cut in Duke Forest off of NC 751. - Female.
Photo 9 by: John Petranka

Comment: Orange, 2020-06-01, Power line cut in Duke Forest off of NC 751. - Female.
Photo 10 by: Aaron Edmonds

Comment: Harnett; C, 2019-06-17, Flat Branch - Found on the vegetation on the margins of a small pond.
Photo 11 by: Claire Dayton

Comment: Catawba, 2018-06-08, Riverbend County Park. Near the Catawba River around trail intersection 8. - Male.
Photo 12 by: F. Williams, S. Williams

Comment: Gates, 2018-05-26, Merchants Millpond State Park
Photo 13 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Onslow, 2017-07-20 - Old female found in front yard!
Photo 14 by: Steve Hall

Comment: Montgomery, 2010-05-21, Black Ankle Bog
Photo 15 by: Scott Hartley

Comment: Cumberland, 2007-07-05, Carvers Creek State Park
Photo 16 by: Signa Williams

Comment: Gates, 2005-05-28, Merchants Millpond State Park - Creek bottom northeast of picnic area.
Photo 17 by: Randy Emmitt

Comment: Durham, 2002-05-23, Cole Mill, Eno River State Park, male
Photo 18 by: Randy Emmitt

Comment: Orange, 2001-05-15, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, male