horned clubtail

(Arigomphus cornutus)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

horned clubtail


N4 - Apparently Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Fairly common, locally common


Late May to late July


Small marshy lakes, muddy ponds, slow streams


Total Length: 23 16

Photo by Alfredo Colon


This is an early season, medium-sized, 23 16 long, pond clubtail. It is fairly common in Minnesota and Wisconsin, uncommon in bordering states and west to Wyoming.

The thorax is yellowish-green or greenish-yellow with black stripes: two shoulder stripes on each side, the upper stripe thick, the lower stripe thinner; and a thin top stripe on each side that wraps around and connects to the thinner shoulder stripe.

Unlike most clubtails, the abdomen has no club.The abdomen is slender and black with yellow markings. The upper (dorsal) surface or abdominal segments 1 through 8 have yellow, elongated, triangular spots. Segment 9 is unmarked. Segment 10 is mostly yellow on top. All segments have a yellow lower margin. On segments 8 and 9, these are sometimes rusty red. On the male, segment 10 is wider than segment 9, a characteristic not seen on any other clubtail. At the tip of segment 10 the male has a pair of distinctive, widely forked claspers. The claspers are yellowish with black tips and resemble bulls horns in shape. Unlike other clubtails, the female has an ovipositor. It is spout-like and about to ½ as long as the ninth abdominal segment.

The head is small. The face is yellow. The large compound eyes are blue and do not meet at the top of the head. The area behind the compound eyes at the top of the head (occiput) on both sexes is high, convex, and plate-like. On the female it is yellow, very high, convex, and cleft in the middle. It is the most conspicuous occiput of any clubtail. The female also has a pair of tiny, black, horn-like protuberances between the compound eyes. This is the only pond clubtail (genus Arigomphus), but not the only clubtail (family Gomphidae), with these “horns”. It is the feature that gives this species its common name.

The legs are black. The third and largest segment (femur) of the hind leg on the female is mostly yellow.

The wings are clear except for a dark cell (stigma) on the leading edge near the tip. The vein on the leading edge of the forewing (costa) is yellow in front but may appear black from above or behind. The wing triangle, a section of intersecting veins about 20% of the way from the base to the wingtip, is about the same size in the forewing and the hindwing.



Larval Food


Adult Food


Life Cycle

Breeding takes place in still waters. After mating the females deposits eggs by flying close to the water surface and tapping the tip of her abdomen into water. After the eggs hatch the young (naiads) live in submerged vegetation. When they mature they crawl onto a lily pad or partly out of the water on a vegetative stem to emerge as adults.



Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 17, 18, 24, 27, 29, 30.


This is the most common pond clubtail (genus Arigomphus) in Minnesota. It is found throughout the state except in the southwest corner.

This species was formerly classified as Gomphus cornutus, placed in the subgenus Arigomphus under the genus Gomphus. That genus was recently split and the former subgenera are now the new genera.



Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies)






Anisoptera (dragonflies)






Gomphidae (clubtails)


Gomphus cornutus


horned clubtail








On plants: The central axis of a pinna, to which pinnules are attached. On insects: The leading edge of the forewing.



On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.



The aquatic larval form (nymph) of a dragonfly, mayfly, or stonefly.



The back of the head. In Odonata, the upper part of the head behind the eyes.



In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In Odonata, a thickened, dark or opaque cell near the tip of the wing on the leading edge.







Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon

  horned clubtail    

Dan W. Andree

Horned Clubtail Dragonfly...

Came across this interesting dragonfly at a pond in Norman County June 2018. Colorful eyes on this Horned Clubtail (Gomphidae) Dragonfly.

  horned clubtail    


MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos






  Arigomphus cornutus - Horned Clubtail
Nate Kohler
  Arigomphus cornutus - Horned Clubtail  

Differing from other clubtail species, this one has no "club" at all, but the males do sport some spectacularly forked appendages. And unlike the other Gomphid species found in Montana, which prefer streams, this one is more likely to be found around lakes and ponds.

The known range of this clubtail in Montana is, at present, the southeast portion of the state. Adults can be seen from early-June through early-August.

  Horned Clubtail
Ryan Rasmussen
  Horned Clubtail  




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

  Horned Clubtail feeding
Doug Selzer

Published on Jun 14, 2016

A Horned Clubtail dragonfly feeding on a bee.

Scott King

Published on May 18, 2012

Horned Clubtail (Arigomphus cornutus) during emergence. May 18, 2012, at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault, Minnesota.





Visitor Sightings

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Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

horned clubtail

Dan W. Andree
June 2018

Location: Norman County

Came across this interesting dragonfly at a pond in Norman County June 2018. Colorful eyes on this Horned Clubtail (Gomphidae) Dragonfly.

horned clubtail


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