Stylogomphus albistylus

Eastern Least Clubtail

Stylogomphus albistylus, Eastern Least Clubtail

Family: Gomphidae

Length: typically 36-40 mm


The Clubtails are a large and sometimes bewildering family of Dragonflies named for a flaring of the tip of the abdomen. In the Eastern Least Clubtail this flaring is present but not especially pronounced.

Of all the Clubtails, the Eastern Least Clubtail is among the smallest, measuring only about 1.5 inches in length. The small size is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the species. The two species of Pygmy Clubtail are also small, but in Eastern Least Clubtail note that the terminal appendages are pale whitish in both sexes, and the abdomen is ringed, particularly when viewed from the side.

Eastern Least Clubtails are found near rivers and streams, specifically along those with sandy to rocky bottoms. The adults hunt high in the air, and may perch in tall trees. At mating time, however, males come to patrol the riffles, and to perch on rocks in the river.

Oppenheimer and Robakiewicz (1987) reported an instance of an Eastern Least Clubtail male trying to mate with two different Ebony Jewelwing females, adding that this was the first published report of a dragonfly attempting to mate with a damselfly.


The tiny size says either Eastern Least Clubtail or one of the two species of Pygmy Clubtail. We can eliminate the Pygmy Clubtails because the terminal appendages of this dragonfly are white, and because the abdomen seems ringed when viewed from the side.  

The abdomen of the Eastern Least Clubtail may or may not appear to be ringed when viewed from above. The whitish appendages help identify this individual as an Eastern Least Clubtail.  

Insects of West Virginia