This Week’s Endangered Species in Focus: Rapids Clubtail

WEEK 12 Species:

Rapids Clubtail (Gomphus quadricolor)



The Rapids Clubtail is a small (42 to 45 millimeter-long), brightly coloured dragonfly. Its eyes are bluish-green, with a light yellowish-green face that is striped with two dark lines, a brownish-black and yellowish-green striped body and transparent wings.

  • Like all dragonflies, it begins as an aquatic larva and transforms into winged adult in the summer
  • Rapids fly from late spring through early summer and adults feed on small flying insects

Important Dates:

Sept. 10, 2009: Listed as Endangered

July 1, 2012: Granted Habitat Protection


The Rapids Clubtail is found throughout eastern North America. Within this range the species and its habitat are locally distributed and there are large areas where the species does not occur.

  • Mostly located in the U.S. Midwest, but range extends from northern Alabama and Georgia to southern Ontario, and from Maine to eastern Minnesota.
  • In Ontario, the Rapids Clubtail has only been found in four rivers in southern Ontario: the Thames, Humber, Credit and Mississippi


  • Typically found in clear, cool medium-to-large rivers with gravel shallows and muddy pools.
  • Larvae occupy quiet muddy pools
  • Adult males perch on exposed rocks and other projections in the rapids – males are quite territorial and make short flights over the water, repeatedly returning to the same perch.
  • Adult females typically inhabit forests along riverbanks, and only visit shallows and pools when they are ready to mate and lay eggs.


  • The primary threat to the Rapids Clubtail is the degradation of river habitats;
  • Activities which impede or alter the quantity and quality of water in the rivers, such as dams and pollution pose threats


  • A recovery strategy and a species-specific habitat regulation are being developed

o   Recovery strategy: a recovery strategy provides the best available scientific knowledge on what is required to achieve recovery of a species.

  • Rapids Clubtail has also been assessed nationally as endangered by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)

What You Can Do to Help the Rapids Clubtail:

  • Soil erosion and runoff is a source of pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides to watercourses in Ontario;

Fun Facts:

  • Adult Rapids Clubtails only live for three to four weeks, between early June and mid-July;
  • Larvae ‘breathe’ through the exposed tip of their abdomen when buried under a fine layer of sediment;
  • The most significant predator of Rapids larvae are fish, larger dragonflies and spiders

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