Ophiogomphus smithi (Sioux Snaketail) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Ophiogomphus smithi (Sioux Snaketail) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

TO BE COMPLETELY HONEST ABOUT IT, the Annual Meeting of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas is really an excuse for a lot of nice people to cavort together in wetlands and rivers with nets and cameras. Yes, we do (grudgingly) meet indoors to present papers, talk DSA business, eat specimens and swap muffins, er, I mean eat muffins and swap specimens, and generally catch up with friends and colleagues (of all backgrounds, motivations and abilities). It is by my measure a highlight of my year (and I have some damned good highlights every year).

About 40 of us are here two days early (for what we annually call the “pre-meeting” – yeah, we have “post-meeting” as well) in the sandy rivers east of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. On these rivers we search for startling dragonflies called “Clubtails” – in the family called Gomphidae. Yep, most have clubbed abdomens. They’re specialties up here. And a big target for many of us is Sioux Snaketail (Ophiogomphus smithi). You can’t find this dragonfly anywhere but here in Wisconsin and just a bit in Iowa. That’s a male above from the Eau Claire River.

By way of rubbing it in to other dragonflyers (odonatologists) who aren’t here yet – or won’t make it, I think we’re up to somewhere around 13 gomphid species after our first day today (not all of these confirmed). Here they are with a few more images below. On that second one down, need I say more? Well, okay, I will — for folks who don’t know it. This drama king we call, for good reason, Skillet Clubtail (Gomphus ventricosus). It’s the “clubbiest” clubtail around.

    • Dromogomphus spinosus (Black Shouldered Spinyleg)
    • Gomphus adelphus (Mustached Clubtail)
    • Gomphus exilis (Lancet Clubtail)
    • Gomphus fraternus (Midland Clubtail)
    • Gomphus lividus (Ashy Clubtail)
    • Gomphus quadricolor (Rapids Clubtail)
    • Gomphus spicatus (Dusky Clubtail)
    • Gomphus ventricosus (Skillet Clubtail)
    • Gomphus viridifrons (Green-faced Clubtail)
    • Hagenius brevistylus (Dragonhunter)
    • Ophiogomphus rupinsulensis (Rusty Snaketail)
    • Ophiogomphus smithi (Sioux Snaketail)
    • Progomphus obscurus (Common Sanddragon)
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Gomphus fraternus (Midland Clubtail) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Gomphus ventricosus (Skillet Clubtail) / @ Bryan Pfeiffer

Gomphus ventricosus (Skillet Clubtail) / @ Bryan Pfeiffer

Gomphus ventricosus (Skillet Clubtail) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Gomphus ventricosus (Skillet Clubtail) / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Epitheca cynosura (Common Baskettail) from Michigan on my way here.

Epitheca cynosura (Common Baskettail) from Michigan on my way here.

Oh, right – not a dragonfly. But I did shoot it with my 180mm macro lens.

Okay, right – not a dragonfly. But I did shoot it with my 180mm macro lens.