Common clubtail

Common Clubtail

©John Hodson

Common clubtail

Scientific name: Gomphus vulgatissimus
The Common clubtail is on the wing in spring and summer. It is an elusive dragonfly that is easiest to see when it first emerges. It can be found along rivers in Southern England and Wales.

Species information


Length: 5.0cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to July


Previously known as the Club-tailed Dragonfly, the Common clubtail is a medium-sized dragonfly on the wing from early May to July. It is elusive as an adult, mostly seen on emergence from its riverine habitat. Meandering rivers with silty substrates over a rocky bed are favoured by the burrowing larvae. Adults have a tightly synchronised emergence, with dense concentrations being found at favoured sites. Once emerged, adults quickly move away from the river to woodland up to 10km away, where they spend most of their time in the canopy of trees.

How to identify

The Club-tailed Dragonfly is unlikely to be confused with any other UK species because its eyes are completely separated (they do not meet on the top of its head like many other species) and it has a distinctly club-shaped abdomen. Extensive black and yellow markings are visible on both males and females, though the yellow areas on the males mostly change to green as they mature.

In our area

The Common Clubtail is an uncommon species. It's Montgomeryshire distribution is restricted to the River Severn, between Newtown and the English border, as well as the lower reaches of the Vyrnwy. Do let us know if you see one.


Found in Southern England and Wales, but restricted to a number of rivers, including the Thames, Arun, Wye, Dee, Teifi and Severn.

Did you know?

The larvae of the Common clubtail live in the silt and mud of riverbeds for three to five years and have a triangular-shaped head; this makes them streamlined and difficult to dislodge.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way. Encourage dragonflies and damselflies into your garden by having a wildlife-friendly pond. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.