Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: common clubtail

Nominated by: British Dragonfly Society

Why do you love it?

The common clubtail has a misleading name, it is not common at all in the UK! This is a very unique species, with its bulbous eyes set apart from each other, its bright golden and black colouring and the clubbed tip of the body. While they are developing, which takes three to five years, common clubtails live as larvae underwater in rivers, burying themselves in the sediment but leaving their back ends sticking out to breath and their eyes poking out to watch for prey. This dragonfly is harder to see than most because of its habit of leaving the river and living in the tops of nearby trees as an adult.

What are the threats to the common clubtail?

This beautiful but elusive dragonfly is threatened by major works carried out on rivers, which destroys the plants they need to emerge into adults. Scouring of the river bed also removes the silt they need to bury in. Excessive silt build up is likewise a problem, suffocating the larvae, as is poor water quality. Fast moving boats on rivers are dangerous for this insect, with the wash created disturbing them during emergence. The removal of woodland near to rivers limits the amount of suitable habitat for this species, and finally, our changing climate is a potentially serious threat, with bad weather during emergence reducing their numbers and hot weather also killing the larvae.

What are you doing to save it?

Records of the common clubtail in the UK are mostly old and very patchy. The British Dragonfly Society desperately needs to understand the population sizes and distribution of this dragonfly to conserve it. This is why the society is running Clubtail Count 2017, calling on all nature lovers to join in the search for this beautiful insect. No previous experience of dragonfly identification is needed, you will be taught all you need to know to find this local specialist.

Visit the British Dragonfly Society website to find out more.



  • Phil Belden (February 3rd, 2017 at 9:56 pm):

    Gomphus vulgatissimus – how can you not fall in love with (lust after) such a sexy beast.
    Its name is a Valentine tease, for it is neither common nor vulgar, but a coquettish little beauty, that teases with its coyness, flirtatious in its tempting ways.
    Oh, but just when it has you in its power and you think you have it … it disappears, for days, for eternity it seems.
    This contrary flaxen and sable charmer fixes its all-seeing emerald eyes, always on you, though you may not see it.
    Oh, rare beauty, confined to a handful of our precious places, wherefore art thou Club-tail – so needing our human hearts and deeds to protect it in its rare wetland haven.