Sable Clubtail

Stenogomphurus rogersi (Gloyd, 1936)

Gomphus rogersi
Steve Krotzer

Insecta (Insects)
Gomphidae (Clubtails)
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Apparently Secure globally - Uncommon in the world but not rare; usually widespread, but may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.


Did you know?

There are over 1,000 species of Clubtail dragonflies known worldwide (Nikula et al. 2003). This mostly black species of Clubtail is aptly named, as its common name, Sable Clubtail, means black with a clubbed tail.

State Ranking Justification

The Sable Clubtail is known from two locations in Orange County, New York, with population estimates undetermined. Further survey efforts may result in the identification of additional populations or range expansions, and may enable population size estimations.

Short-term Trends

No estimate of population size for the Sable Clubtail has been made between the late 1980s to 2000 (New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). Information prior to this time frame is even more limited. Therefore, any new location information on the Sable Clubtail in New York may reflect heightened interest in surveying for this species rather than a population increase or a range expansion (Holst 2005).

Long-term Trends

Recent observations of Sable Clubtails were made between the late 1980s to 2000 in Orange county, (Donnelly 2004, New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). Since these are fairly recent records, and the full extent and size of the populations have not been determined, long-term trends are unclear.

Conservation and Management


Any activity that might lead to water contamination or the alteration of natural hydrology could impact Sable Clubtails and other stream dwelling odonates (Holst 2005). Such threats might include chemical contamination from agricultural run-off, changes in dissolved oxygen content, increases in sediment load, development near their habitats, and the building of dams (Holst 2005).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Any measures to reduce water contamination or hydrological alteration such as agricultural run-off, upland development, and damming that would affect flow of small forested streams should be considered when managing for this species (Holst 2005).

Research Needs

Further research is needed to define the distribution and population size of the Sable Clubtail. In addition, research is required to understand the habitat requirements and threats to this species, and to create appropriate management guidelines for its persistence in known locations (Holst 2005).



Sable Clubtails inhabit clear, moderately flowing forest streams with sand, silt, or rocky substrate (Dunkle 2000, Holst 2005). Larvae are aquatic and found in the water during this lifestage, whereas adults are terrestrial and are found in habitats surrounding forested streams.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Intermittent stream* (guide)
    The community of a small, intermittent or ephemeral streambed in the uppermost segments of stream systems where water flows only during the spring or after a heavy rain and often remains longer, ponded in isolated pools. These streams typically have a moderate to steep gradient and hydric soils.
  • Marsh headwater stream* (guide)
    The aquatic community of a small, marshy perennial brook with a very low gradient, slow flow rate, and cool to warm water that flows through a marsh, fen, or swamp where a stream system originates. These streams usually have clearly distinguished meanders (i.e., high sinuosity) and are in unconfined landscapes.
  • Rocky headwater stream* (guide)
    The aquatic community of a small- to moderate-sized perennial rocky stream typically with a moderate to steep gradient, and cold water that flows over eroded bedrock, boulders, or cobbles in the area where a stream system originates.

* probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Mocha Emerald (Somatochlora linearis) (guide)
  • Ocellated Emerald (Somatochlora minor)


New York State Distribution

Sable Clubtails have been confirmed from two locations in Orange county of New York State (Donnelly 2004, New York Natural Heritage Program 2007).

Global Distribution

The Sable Clubtail is distributed across the Appalachians of the eastern United States from southern New York southwest down into Georgia (Dunkle 2000). It has a total known range from Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia (Abbott 2007).

Best Places to See

  • Deep Hollow Brook (Orange County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

As their name suggests, Clubtails have an enlarged tip on the end of their abdomens, giving them a club-like appearance. The Sable Clubtail belongs to the subgenus Stenogomphurus. Sables are an Appalachian species, 2.0 inches in length, with an undeveloped club and black legs. They are slender and olive green to mostly black, have green eyes, and a black, interruped stripe on the side of their thorax. Males have a pale grayish-green thorax, whereas this portion of the body is greenish-yellow on females. They appear all black on the tops of abdominal segments 8-10. These may be separated from a similar southern species (not known to occur in New York State), the Cherokee Clubtail (Gomphus consanguis) by their characteristic black on the top portion of their heads. Male terminal appendages and female subgenital plates are distinctive from other Gomphus species when examined under magnification.


Adult Sable Clubtails forage at forest edges and males are known to perch on rocks, overhanging grass, and floating plants of forest streams (Dunkle 2000).


Sable Clubtail larvae feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates and adults feed on insects which they capture in flight.

Best Time to See

The Sable Clubtail has been found in New York in late June at both of its known locations. Adult males can be found at appropriate water habitats from mid-morning to late afternoon patrolling for females (Dunkle 2000). Larvae may be found in appropriate habitats year-round.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Sable Clubtail present and reproducing in New York.

Similar Species

  • Mustached Clubtail (Hylogomphus adelphus)
    The Mustached Clubtail has a more prominent club with a smaller and chunkier overall appearance when compared with the Sable Clubtail (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2003).
  • Beaverpond Clubtail (Phanogomphus borealis)
    The Beaverpond Clubtail has a narrow, brown midfrontal stripe on its thorax, where the Sable Clubtail has a black, interrupted stripe (Dunkle 2000).
  • Harpoon Clubtail (Phanogomphus descriptus)
    The black thoracic stripe of the Harpoon Clubtail is sometimes interrupted, and is always interruped with the Sable Clubtail. The female Harpoons have black legs with a green-streaked hind thigh, while female Sables have all black legs (Dunkle 2000).

Sable Clubtail Images


Sable Clubtail
Stenogomphurus rogersi (Gloyd, 1936)

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Arthropoda (Mandibulates)
      • Class Insecta (Insects)
        • Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
          • Family Gomphidae (Clubtails)


  • Gomphus rogersi (Gloyd, 1936)

Additional Resources


Abbott, J.C. 2007. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the odonata of North America. Austin, Texas. Available at (accessed February 28, 2007).

Donnelly, T. W. 1992. The odonata of New York State. Bulletin of American Odonatology. 1(1):1-27.

Donnelly, T.W. 1999. The Dragonflies and Damselflies of New York. Prepared for the 1999 International Congress of Odonatology and 1st Symposium of the Worldwide Dragonfly Association. July 11-16, 1999. Colgate University, Hamilton, New York: 39 pp.

Donnelly, T.W. 2004. The Odonata of New York State. Unpublished data. Binghamton, NY.

Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonflies Through Binoculars. A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America. Oxford University Press: New York, New York. 266 pp.

Needham, J.G., M.J. Westfall, Jr., and M.L. May. 2000. Dragonflies of North America. Revised edition. Scientific Publishers: Gainesville, Florida. 939 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2007. Biotics Database. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 2005. Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Planning Database. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

Nikula, B., J.L. Loose, and M.R. Burne. 2003. A field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Massachusetts. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Westborough, MA. 197 pp.

Ware, J.L., E. Pilgrim, M.L. May, T.W. Donnelly, and K. Tennessen. 2016. Phylogenetic relationships of North American Gomphidae and their close relatives. Systematic Entomology 2016:1-10.


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: April 17, 2007

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Stenogomphurus rogersi. Available from: Accessed June 23, 2024.