Minnesota Dragonfly

Riffle Snaketail

Ophiogomphus carolus

The Riffle Snaketail is a Clubtail that has a green face, thorax and eyes, and a yellow and black abdomen. As their common name would suggest they are commonly found around riffles in small, clear streams with a swift current.


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 1.6 to 1.8 inches
  • Face is pale to white below and green on the frons. Green eyes and no facial markings
  • Green thorax with connected shoulder stripes
  • Third thoracic stripe is incomplete, and 4th narrow and complete
  • Mostly black legs possibly with small pale spots near the base
  • Black abdomen with yellow candle-shaped top spots on segments 2 to 7, spots on first segments may be more green instead of yellow
  • Rectangular yellow tops spot on segment 8, square on segment 9 and a spot on segment 10
  • Pale patches on the sides of segments 7 to 10 with some random brown smudges and a black lip
  • Brown claspers are pointed and arched

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Female is colored similarly to the male
  • Female's abdomen is thicker than the male's with less clubbing at the end
  • Subgenital plates are about three quarters the length of segment 9

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Riffle Snaketails are quick flyers that typically fly close to the surface of the water. Males will often perch on rocks in the riffles or on leaves of trees on the shore, then make short patrols over the riffles and then return to their perch


Small, clear streams with swift current, sandy bottom and riffles


Female lays eggs by slapping abdomen on the surface of the water as she flies over. Females may rest before ovipositing, producing an egg mass in preparation

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.