Riffle Snaketail / Ophiogomphe de Carole

(Ophiogomphus carolus)

Adult size: 40-45 mm

Habitat: This species is perhaps most closely associated with shallow riffles in woodland streams, hence its name. Look for it especially along clear, rapid-flow, rocky to sandy-bottomed streams and rivers.

Flight period: In New Brunswick, data thus far suggests that it emerges early in the second week in June in the extreme SW to late June in the N, becomes rare in late July/early August (dates June 8th- August 10th)

Adult male Riffle Snaketail, Blackville Municipal Park, July 12th, 2007

ID hints: Best to confirm in hand with the claspers (aka cerci, seen below in lateral and dorsal view- click to enlarge) of the male; however, through binoculars, note black legs, usually without any pale parts; sometimes tibiae have a pale stripe (unlike the Brook Snaketail, which generally has pale femora), unmarked pale green face (Boreal Snaketail and Extra-striped Snaketail have black stripes on theirs) and wide yellow stripes all the way down the dorsal surface of the abdomen.

Also, do check out these great graphic aids posted by Tony Thomas in the link directly below to help in ID with the males of all of our Snaketails (Genus Ophiogomphus):

Ophiogomphus males - dorsal of our 7 species, lateral of 6

Above- Male cerci of Ophiogomphus carolus, seen her in dorsal and lateral view- click to enlarge

General Nature Notes: Common to abundant along a number of the cleaner, swifter-flowing watercourses in New Brunswick, this is perhaps the most easily spotted of the seven species of Snaketails (Genus Ophiogomphus) in our region. This is mainly due to its propensity for perching on stones or boulders, often in mid-stream near riffles, but also along exposed river banks. 

In flight, this species is often seen flying low above riffles and rapids. Also perches in vegetation along the edge of the watercourse, where it is decidedly better camouflaged, often choosing broad-leaved plants to do so. However, like other members of the genus, will also perch (frequently) in the crown of trees, making it very difficult to locate and belying its actual abundance.

Naturalist John Acorn also mentions regularly spying Snaketails in silhouette perched on broad leaves in the tops of the tree along rivers in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I have noticed this on occasion here in New Brunswick as well. A better hint to their actual abundance is how thickly their exuviae (cast-off larval skins) can be found along some rivers in mid to late June. At this time, a quick pass through the grasses on the edge of the water may quickly fill your hand!

Female Riffle Snaketail, Cocagne River at rte 490, August 6th, 2006

Male Riffle Snaketail, dorsal view of posed specimen, SW Miramichi at Juniper, June 19th, 2007

Male Riffle Snaketail, lateral view, Bouctouche River on Chemin de la Traverse in St-Paul, July 5th, 2010

Also check out this gorgeous image of a Snaketail (a RUSTY, O. rupinsulensis) emerging on a rock in the middle of the Magaguadivic River by Tony Thomas, followed by another link illustrating typical habitat for this species (click on the links below):

Rusty Snaketail emergence

Snaketail Habitat @ Thomaston Corner on the Magaguadivic River

Map showing locations of Riffle Snaketail recorded to date in New B...

Tags: Brunswick, Canada, Carole, New, Ophiogomphus, Riffle, Snaketail, carolus

Views: 268

Replies to This Discussion

Excellent Denis! Saw my first one this past summer (2014). It was in exactly the habitat you describe ... sitting on a rock in the middle of a fast area of the stream .. the North Forks Stream ...between Chipman and Minto. Actually this is the only time I've seen any Snaketail so I'm looking forward to clues where to find others. I'm really interested in Odes so these profiles are great!

Fantastic species account, Denis! Great information and outstanding photos. I know how much time it takes to produce a posting like this so kudos to you for all the hard work you've put in for our benefit!

Many thanks, Jimmy and Stu! I really appreciate the comments.
By the way, if you notice things that are not right, or perhaps other aspects that could be developed further, one of the beauties of this format is that it is really easy to go back and add/remove things and so on. While there are plenty of things I know could be better, in some cases I do not have the right image illustrating what it is I am trying to say, but in other cases, it is just the case that I have not thought about it that way. However, I can go back in Photoshop and add arrows or lines pointing to structures and so on, so any constructive criticism is always appreciated. Sometimes you sit in front of something for a long time, you just cannot see "the forest for the trees", if I have that expression right. I am working on one about the Maine Snaketail too which should be posted over the next few weeks, so that will give some opportunity to contrast and compare and see how that works.

Thanks,Denis.  I may have to broaden my horizon (picture taking) beyond my own backyard if you keep this up.

LOL, Helen. You never know! One of these could show up in your yard (they can show up quite a ways form a river), but you are certainly more likely to see them in their preferred habitat at the right time of year, all things considered.

I go walking in the Blackville Park and live on the SW Miramichi....so I should find these guys close by!  My first Odes were Snaketails...down along the river here.  I started looking in ponds after that, so didn't see anymore.  This info is very clear and concise Denis and the images, Tony's too, are excellent!  This stuff gets me so pumped! 

Great stuff, Nancy! At least six of NB's seven Snaketails occur along the shore of Blackville Park, so you certainly are very well situated to study them there. They all emerge primarily during the month of June, so that could be a very busy time for you :) Incidentally, Europe only has ONE species of Snaketail, so we are pretty fortunate to have such a wide variety of these very interesting and sensitive (to water quality, among other things) species here.

Fantastic!!  Looking forward to next June and hopefully seeing one emerge!!  :))

Perhaps Denis can move this to the actual species page (with the images and other references); same for all your other superb achievements.

Done! Thanks again, Jimmy!

Thanks guys ... trying to add a little to the bag ... I'll be using these maps as I don't know where to find all these odes


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