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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide

Image of An adult female harpoon clubtail.Zoom+ An adult female harpoon clubtail. © Allen Barlow

Harpoon clubtail

Gomphus descriptus

Species Group: Invertebrate

Conservation Status

State: Threatened



Ranging from 1.8” to 1.9”, the harpoon clubtail has a brown thorax and black abdomen both marked with gray green stripes;, a gray-green face, and pale to deep blue eyes. Coloration is similar between sexes but females are stouter with a less pronounced “club.”

Image of Range of the harpoon clubtail in New Jersey.Zoom+ Range of the harpoon clubtail in New Jersey.


Harpoon clubtails are limited to the ridges and valleys of Sussex County where they inhabit rivers and streams near gravel bars. These dragonflies spend much of their time burrowing.


Nymphs feed on aquatic invertebrates and sometimes even small fish and tadpoles. Adults feed on soft-bodied flying insects like mosquitoes, flies, and moths.


Active from early May to early July, breeding occurs primarily in May and June. After mating, females will oviposit their eggs on the surface of the water where eggs are carried down stream to small pools where the larvae will emerge.


Due to its rarity and limited suitable habitat, the harpoon clubtail is considered Threatened in New Jersey.

Text derived from the book, Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey. 2009. By Allen E. Barlow, David M. Golden and Jim Bangma. Edited and updated by Karena Di Leo in 2011.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Arthropoda
       Class: Insecta
          Order: Odonata
             Family: Gomphidae
                Genus: Gomphus
                   Species: G. descriptus

Find Related Info: Invertebrates, Threatened

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