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Temagami, Ontario
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Gomphidae
Subfamily: Hageniinae
Davies & Tobin, 1985
Genus: Hagenius
Selys, 1854
Species: H. brevistylus
Binomial name
Hagenius brevistylus
Selys, 1854

The dragonhunter or black clubtail (Hagenius brevistylus), sometimes called the black dragon, is a clubtail dragonfly of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.

closeup of head

It is much larger than any other North American clubtail, at 3.3 inches (84 mm), with black and yellow markings and green eyes. Males can be distinguished at a distance by their habit of curling their abdomens under while flying, forming a sideways J shape.[1][2]

The dragonhunter is the only member of genus Hagenius. Its closest relatives are Asian dragonflies of genus Sieboldius. Together the two genera form the subfamily Hageniinae.

The nymph is unusual, with a very flat, wide body. It is slow-moving and lives among bark and leaf litter at the edges of streams, where its dark color provides camouflage.[3]

The adult feeds on large insects, including darner and clubtail dragonflies, sometimes ambushing them from above.[3][4] It also takes monarch butterflies, eating the thorax and abdomen first to avoid the greatest concentration of cardenolide toxins.[5]


  1. ^ Kurt Mead. Dragonflies of the North Woods. Second edition. Duluth, MN:Kollath+Stensaas, 2009.
  2. ^ Dunkle, Sidney W. (2000). Dragonflies through Binoculars. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 176. ISBN 0-19-511268-7. 
  3. ^ a b Needham, James G.; Minter J. Westfall, Jr.; Michael L. May (2000). Dragonflies of North America (rev. ed.). Gainesville, FL: Scientific Publishers. pp. 348–351. ISBN 0-945417-94-2. 
  4. ^ Corbet, Phillip S. (1999). Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. pp. 281–282. ISBN 0-8014-2592-1. 
  5. ^ White, DS; Sexton, OJ (1989). "The Monarch Butterfly (Lepidoptera: Danaidae) as Prey for the Dragonfly Hagenius brevistylus (Odonata: Gomphidae) [abstract]". Entomological News. 100 (3): 129–132. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 

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