E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Cordulegaster dorsalis
Pacific Spiketail
Family: Cordulegastridae
Species account author: Robert Cannings.
Extracted from Introducing the Dragonflies of British Columbia and the Yukon (2002)

Photo of species

© Ian Lane  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #1179)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Cordulegaster dorsalis in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information


The face is yellow with a dark line; blue eyes barely meet at a point on top of the head. The body is black, with yellow stripes on the thorax and yellow spots on top of the abdomen. Length: ♂ 75 mm, ♀ 80 mm.

Flight Period

B.C., mid May to early September (most are seen in July).

Genus Description

Closely related to Common Clubtails, but fly later in summer and fall. Only one of twelve North American species lives in B.C., a rare inhabitant of the southern interior. Males often patrol back and forth over the water, then land on leaves and twigs that bend under their weight, leaving them hanging nearly vertically.


Family Description

Large black-and-yellow dragonflies with eyes meeting at a single point on top of the head. Spiketails live along streams where the males patrol steadily up and down for long distances. The English name comes from the female’s long, spike-like ovipositor, used for placing eggs in streambeds. The large, squat, hairy larvae bury themselves in the sediment to await their prey.
Field Notes

One of our largest dragonflies. Fairly common along small coastal woodland streams flowing from lakes; rare east of the Coast Mountains in southern B.C., and where it does occur, it flies along small warm streams, especially ones fed by springs. Egg-laying females hover vertically, moving up and down, shoving eggs into the sand and silt of the streambed. Perches vertically.


Montane. Coastal valleys; southern interior to about 51°N.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS4YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-05-27 5:45:07 AM]
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© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC