Minnesota Dragonfly

Black-shouldered Spinyleg

Dromogomphus spinosus

The black-shouldered spinylegs is a large aptly named Clubtail. Their front thoracic stripes are bold and mostly fused together, making them appear to have a black shoulder, and they have long legs with numerous spines of varying length.


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 2.1 to 2.6 inches
  • Yellow face with no facial markings and green eyes
  • Head appears small compared to the body
  • Markings on the top of the thorax look like an unbroken 'T' with a parallel dash on either side
  • Yellow thorax with bold connected pair of shoulder stripes, incomplete 3rd stripe and faint 4th stripe
  • Long legs with numerous different sized spines
  • Black abdomen with yellow lance-shaped top spots on segments 2 to 7, triangular top spots on 8 and 9 and a square spot covering most of segment 10
  • Moderate clubbing on end of abdomen with yellow patches on the side of segments 7 to 9

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Female is colored similarly to the male
  • Abdomen is wider and less tapered at the beginning than the males
  • Little clubbing at the end of the abdomen
  • Subgenital plates are pointed and less than a quarter of the length of segment 9

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Black-shouldered Spinylegs males perch on leaves, rocks or the ground typically facing the water or patrol their territory, flying back and forth and occasionally stopping to hover. Females typically perch on shaded foliage in nearby woodlands. Black-shoulder Spinylegs can often be seen later in the summer than most other clubtails other than Stylurus


Small to large woodland rivers and streams and large lakes with rocky shoreline


Mating takes longer than other species and usually happens in the treetops. Females lay eggs by rapidly skimming the water and tapping their abdomen on the surface at regular intervals of a few feet.

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.