Minnesota Dragonfly

Cobra Clubtail

Gomphurus vastas

The Cobra Clubtail is a dark Clubtail with one of the widest club in the region. It was moved from the genus Gomphus to the new genus Gomphurus. It is easy to distinguish by its wide club but can be mistaken with the Skillet Clubtail, which has an even wider club


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is from approximately 1.9 to 2.2 inches
  • Green eyes with bold black markings on the face.
  • Thin stripes on the top of thorax with a lot of black space in between.
  • Yellow top spots on segments 1 to 7 of the thorax
  • Side spot on segment 8 is small and does not reach the edge.
  • Side spot on segment 9 is larger and continues to the edge with no black margin
  • Club is about equal in width to the thorax

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Female is colored similarly to the male
  • The female has yellow side spots on the abdomen
  • Yellow top spots on abdomen are bigger
  • Does not have as large of a club as the male

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Similar Species

Skillet Clubtail: The Cobra Clubtail and the Skillet Clubtail look similar. Both are black and yellow and have extremely wide clubs. However the Cobra Clubtail has bold facial markings while the Skillet Clubtail has no facial markings and a slightly wider club

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Midland Clubtail: The Midland Clubtail is a common species that is found in many of the same habitats as the Cobra Clubtail. Midland Clubtails are slightly larger with no facial markings, finer side stripes on the abdomen, and have a narrower club with a top spot on segment 8.

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Splendid Clubtail: The Splendid Clubtail also can look similar but it is larger (almost a quarter larger) with a narrower club and a larger side spot on segment 8. This side spot goes all the way to the edge, unlike the comparable spot on the Cobra Clubtail.

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Natural History


Often found perched on plants, bushes, rocks or on the ground beside a river or stream.


Large rivers and streams, often with sandy or silty bottoms. Also sometimes found around large lakes.


Mating usually occurs while perched on plants or shrubs or in the upper parts of trees. Females lay eggs by flying over the water and tapping or dipping the tip of the abdomen into the water to wash eggs off.

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.