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Female Dragonfly. Photo by Giff Beaton. Image may be subject to copyright.
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Ophiogomphus incurvatus Carle, 1982

Appalachian Snaketail

Federal Protection: No US federal protection

State Protection: No Georgia state protection

Global Rank: G3

State Rank: S2

SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): Yes

Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 12

Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Small to medium spring-fed streams with mud and gravel bottoms.


Description

A gorgeous green clubtail. Adults are typically 41-43 mm (1.6 – 1.7 inches) in total length. The thorax is bright green, with split mid-dorsal, two shoulder, and one lateral brown stripes. The anterior lateral stripe is absent, leaving only the posterior stripe. Face is green. Eyes are aqua-blue (males) to blue-gray (females). Legs with pale yellow thighs. The abdomen is very dark brown (almost black) with yellow dorsal markings on all segments, the markings shorten posteriorly, becoming distinct spots on segments 8-9. Lateral markings of male are pale and very small on segments 1-6, larger on segment 7, and large and yellow on segments 8-10. Female is similar but the abdomen is thicker, with pale to yellow lateral markings on every segment (but smaller on segments 7 - 9 than on male). Club is virtually absent in female. Images are available at Giff Beaton’s website.

Similar Species

Edmund’s snaketail is slightly larger, has two lateral thoracic stripes, and the yellow on the side of club is broken into discrete spots. The Maine snaketail is slightly larger, but with legs all black; also, it has less yellow on sides of the club.

Habitat

Small to medium slow-flowing streams through forests, typically with mud-gravel-sand substrates.

Diet

Adults eat almost any flying insect prey they can catch. Larvae eat a variety of aquatic invertebrates.

Life History

Adults are typically on the wing from mid-late April until June. Adult females are typically found away from water perching near the tops of low vegetation. Males perch near riffles, on overhanging vegetation, or on gravel bars and make short patrols (with a bouncy flight) low over riffles, occasionally hovering. When females approach the water they are often quickly captured by males. The female oviposits by dipping the end of her abdomen into the water in a series of taps on the water’s surface near the same riffles that males are guarding, and then flies back up to the treetops. When perched, this species is sometimes approachable, but often it is very wary.

Survey Recommendations

Surveying is best accomplished during the flight season (late April through June), but winter surveys for larvae of these snaketails could also be effective. This species is difficult to survey, requiring appropriate weather during what is a relatively short flight season. Surveyors should

target the period when adults are present in breeding habitat. Typically, this consists of clear sunny weather with a temperature above 24ºC (75ºF). Not easy to locate in the field but sometimes unwary when found. Additional surveys in Georgia can be expected to locate as-of-yet undocumented populations.

Range

This species is native to the Appalachian Mountain and southern Piedmont regions of the eastern United States. In Georgia, populations are known from the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Piedmont, including sites close to the Fall Line.

Threats

In Georgia, threats to this dragonfly include degradation of stream (e.g., siltation) and adjacent habitats from agricultural practices and commercial and residential development. Failure to follow agricultural best-management practices results in sedimentation and bank destabilization and potential degradation of water quality from pesticide and fertilizer runoff.

Georgia Conservation Status

Only 7-8 records (in 7 counties) are known for this species in Georgia.

Conservation Management Recommendations

Incentive programs to help farmers implement best-management practices could improve instream habitat by decreasing sedimentation and runoff and increasing riparian forest cover. Forestry operations should follow best-management practices for water quality. There is a need for additional surveys to document new populations of the Appalachian snaketail and for periodic monitoring of known populations.

References

Beaton, G. 2007. Dragonflies and damselflies of Georgia and the southeast. University of Georgia Press, Athens. 368 pp.

Bick, G.H. 2003. At-risk Odonata of conterminous United States. Bulletin of American Odonatology 7: 41-56.

Carle, F.L. 1982. Ophiogomphus incurvatus: a new name for Ophiogomphus carolinus Hagen (Odonata: Gomphidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 75(3):335−339.

 

Carle, F.L. 1992. Ophiogomphus (Ophionurus) australis spec. nov. from the Gulf Coastal Plain of Louisiana, with larval and adult keys to American Ophiogomphus (Anisoptera: Gomphidae). Odonatologica 21(2): 141−152.

Donnelly, T.W. 2004. Distribution of North American Odonata. Part I: Aeshnidae, Petaluridae, Gomphidae, Cordulegastridae. Bulletin of American Odonatology 7:61-90.

Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonflies through binoculars. Oxford University Press, New York. 266 pp.

Mauffray, B., and G. Beaton. 2005. The distribution of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) in Georgia. Bulletin of American Odonatology 9: 21-66.

Needham, J.G., M.J. Westfall, Jr., and M.L. May. 2000. Dragonflies of North America. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, Florida. 939 pp.

Authors of Account

Dirk Stevenson

Date Compiled or Updated

1 Jan 2019

Male Dragonfly. Photo by Giff Beaton. Image may be subject to copyright.