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Eastern Ringtail

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Erpetogomphus designatus

Hagen in Selys, 1858

Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Gomphioidea
Family Gomphidae
Genus Erpetogomphus
Species designatus Hagen in Selys, 1858 [Erpetogomphus]


This is the most widely distributed of the ringtail species in the region. The face of this yellowish-green species is pale green and the vertex is dark brown. The green occiput is swollen medially in both sexes. The middorsal thoracic stripe widens anteriorly toward the collar. The brown antehumeral stripe tapers distally and is free at both ends. The brown humeral stripe is complete and well-developed, but not extending considerably posteroventrally. The midlateral stripe is weakly developed and interrupted, often lacking at its upper end. The third lateral stripe is narrow, but complete. The femora are pale green becoming darker distally and the tibiae are dark brown armed with black spines. The wings have a distinctive basal wash of yellow. The abdomen is pale green marked with reddish-brown rings and interrupted dorsolateral stripe on segments 3-6. The remaining segments in the male are light yellowish-brown and in the female segments 7-8 are darker dorsall y.


Total length: 49-55 mm; abdomen: 34-37 mm; hindwing: 28-32 mm.

Similar Species

This species can be distinguished from other ringtail species by a combination of characters including the diffuse yellow or brown basally in the quadrangles of all wings, a dark brown (not black ) pterostigma and a medially swollen occiput in both sexes. The larger Flag-tailed Spinyleg (Dromogomphus spoliatus ) has longer black legs and a distinctly larger club in both sexes.


Clear streams and rivers of deciduous forests with moderate current.


This is the best known and most widely distributed of the species in this group. It may be abundant, perched on the ground or on vegetation a foot or two above the ground. Emergent rocks surrounded by swift current along the stream margin are also favored perches. Females fly swiftly, occasionally hovering over the water, tapping their abdomens on the surface. Eastern Ringtail is partially sympatric with White-belted Ringtail (E. compositus). It also flys with Blue-faced Ringtail (E. eutainia ) in central Texas.


Widely distributed, including east of Texas. North to Montana southward to Mexico.