Skillet Clubtail

Gomphurus ventricosus (Walsh, 1862)

Skillet Clubtail
Steven Daniel

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
Vulnerable globally - At moderate risk of extinction due to rarity or other factors; typically 80 or fewer populations or locations in the world, few individuals, restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or recent and widespread declines.


Did you know?

Adult dragonflies in the genus Gomphurus are known to have a preference for large prey items such as butterflies and even other dragonflies (Paulson 2011).

State Ranking Justification

In New York, <i>Gomphurus ventricosus</i> is known from two rivers in a single county in northern NY with historical records from two additional counties (New York Natural Heritage Program 2020). It's current known range is small in the state, found in flowing water habitats with good water quality where threats to habitats could include water contamination, sedimentation, alteration of natural hydrology (Holst 2005).

Short-term Trends

Recent observations (new locations) of Skillet Clubtails have been made in two rivers in the St. Lawrence watershed (New York Natural Heritage 2020). There has been no estimate of population size for this species based on statewide occurrences. New location information on the Skillet Clubtail in New York may be reflective of heightened interest in surveying for this species rather than a population increase or a range expansion (NYS DEC 2005).

Long-term Trends

Two historical records are known from Herkimer and Orange counties. The full extent and size of the populations have not been determined and the species may have historically been present in medium to large rivers throughout eastern New York; thus, long-term trends are unclear.

Conservation and Management


Skillet Clubtail larvae are known to inhabit rivers with clear water and good flow (Jones et al. 2008) and presumably require high water quality with high dissolved oxygen content and substrates that have little sedimentation. Thus, any activity which might lead to water contamination or the alteration of natural hydrology could impact populations (NYS DEC 2005). Such threats might include agricultural run-off and other pollutants, dams, shoreline modifications, increases in the sediment load of rivers, and changes in the dissolved oxygen content (NYS DEC 2005).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Further searching and larval sampling may be necessary before specific stewardship needs at a location can be identified. However, any measures to reduce water contamination or hydrological alteration such as agricultural run-off, shoreline development, and damming that would affect river flow should be considered when managing for this species (NYS DEC 2005). Maintaining a forested buffer around the river would be beneficial to adult clubtail populations (Lee 2007).

Research Needs

Further research is needed to define the distribution, life history, and population size of the Skillet 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 (NYS DEC 2005).



Throughout its range, Skillet Clubtails inhabit small to large clear rivers with partial mud bottoms and good water quality (Donnelly 1999). Recent observations in New York are from medium to large rivers and sand and gravel substrates.


New York State Distribution

Skillet Clubtails have been documented in St. Lawrence County in northern New York from two rivers in recent years. Historical records exist from Herkimer and Orange counties (New York Natural Heritage Program 2020).

Global Distribution

This species is distributed from Nova Scotia west through Ontario, south through Minnesota to Missouri, east through Tennessee and North Carolina and north through the Northeastern United States (Nature Serve 2019).

Best Places to See

  • Raquette River (St. Lawrence County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Gomphurus ventricosus has the smallest overall body size and widest club (wider than the thorax) on the tip of the abdomen than any other Gomphurus (Nikula et al. 2003).The male abdomen is black with yellow dorsal streaking through segment 7 (Jones et al. 2008). Segments 8-10 of club are all black dorsally, with large yellow spots on the sides of segments 8 and 9 (Nikula et al. 2003). The female is similar with a wider yellow abdominal stripe and smaller club (Paulson 2011).

Best Time to See

Skillet Clubtail adults have been collected between June 8 and June 25. It would be reasonable to search from late May to mid-July for further records.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

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

Skillet Clubtail Images


Skillet Clubtail
Gomphurus ventricosus (Walsh, 1862)

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


  • Gomphus ventricosus Walsh, 1863

Additional Resources


Carle, F. L. 1994. Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonata) known to or likely to occur in Vermont. Checklist of species and global and state ranks prepared for the Vermont Nongame and Natural Heritage Program.

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

Jones, Colin D., Andrea Kingsley, Peter Burke, and Matt Holder. 2008. The dragonflies and damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and the surrounding area. The Friends of the Algonquin Park. Whitney, ON.

Lee, Y. 2007. Special animal abstract for Ophiogomphus anomalus (extra-striped snaketail). Michigan Natural Features Inventory. Lansing, MI. 4pp. Available (Accessed January 18, 2009).

NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia.

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.

Paulson, D. 2011. Dragonflies and damselflies of the east. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

Soltesz, Ken. 1992. Proposed Heritage ranks for New York State odonata. Unpublished report for New York Natural Heritage Program. 37 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

This guide was authored by: Erin L. White

Information for this guide was last updated on: June 23, 2020

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