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Eastern Ringtail (Erpetogomphus designatus)

Eastern Ringtail
Erpetogomphus designatus
(Order: Odonata, Family: Gomphidae)

Erpetogomphus designatus. (Photographed 16 Jul 2013 at Gerber Reserve, Reno County, KS by Ryan Smith)

Adult Diagnosis: Eastern Ringtails are distinguished by clubbed tails and distinct pale yellow rings extending down the abdomen. Males have greenish body with a slender abdomen and larger club at the distal end. Females tend to be more yellow in color with a thicker body and less pronounced club. Eastern Ringtails will grow to a length of between 49 and 55 mm. This species has hyaline (clear) wings with amber spots near the wing base. Eyes are usually light blue/gray and separated in the middle. 

Life History: Erpetogromphus designatus mate like most dragonfly species. Males usually initiate copulation by clasping the female behind the head. The female will then clasp packets of sperm from the male and fertilize her eggs. The female will them make short dipping motions over standing water to deposit the fertilized eggs. Dragonfly nymphs have a multi-year life cycle and will feed and develop for up to 3 years before emerging out of the water as adults.

Erpetogomphus designatus nymph.  

Distribution: Eastern Ringtail sightings seem to be more rare than other species. Dark tan areas are where sightings are more common.  (Map from BugGuide.)


Habitat: Eastern Ringtails seem to prefer rivers and large streams especially with gravel or sandy bottoms and sandbanks.

Behavior: Eastern Ringtails seem to settle on perches of low vegetation. They may even be observed on the ground or on rocks. Patrolling behavior consists of fast patrols up and downstream with occasional hovering.

Diet: Dragonfly species are traditionally carnivorous. As nymphs, dragonflies will eat mosquito larvae and other developing invertebrates. As adults, dragonflies use their basket-like legs to catch other invertebrates in midair. A dragonfly can consume its weight in food in only 30 minutes.

Conservation Status: N/A





Beaton, G. (2007). Dragonflies and damselflies of Georgia and southeast. Athens, GA: Georgia University Press.

Paulson, D. (2011). Dragonflies and damselflies of the east. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Phillips, M. (1960). Dragonflies and damselflies. New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.


Submitted by: Ryan Smith August 2013.

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