The Apache Spiketail Dragonfly

Banner image by © 2005Terry Wright, Arizona Hiking Guide.

Scientific NAme

Odonata: Codulegastridae Cordulegaster diadema diadema Selys

History and distribution

 In 1917 Clarence Kennedy suggested that spiketail larvae likely wash downstream in floods over their multi-year larval lifetime, so starting life at the headwaters makes sense. Watch for these remarkable dragonflies in Deer Creek from August through October.


The Apache spiketail dragonfly is the largest and one of the most brilliantly colored creatures on the Colorado Plateau: a jet black body with bright yellow banding, and enormous, startlingly brilliant blue eyes. One of two western species, the spiketails are particularly adapted to life in steep, narrow canyons. This species flies in mid- to late summer and into autumn, and adults are most often found close to montane springs. Females lay their eggs in mud at the water’s edge, often at springs sources. They remain in the larval stage for three years, growing to nearly 5 cm (2”) in length, and live in stream bottom mud.