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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

St. Croix Snaketail (Ophiogomphus susbehcha)



Saint Croix Snaketail (Ophiogomphus susbehcha), a dragonfly listed as Endangered in Wisconsin, is known from the Saint Croix, Chippewa, and Flambeau Rivers and prefers moderately large, clean, fast-flowing warm water streams with cobble-gravel-sand substrate. The flight period extends from mid May through late June.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for St. Croix Snaketail (Ophiogomphus susbehcha). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Ophiogomphus susbehcha in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG2
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was compiled from publication PUB-ER-085-99 (now out-of-print).

Identification: Color pattern and shape of the terminal appendages easily separate this species from other Ophiogomphus.

Habitat: Prefer larger streams than other snaketails, with fast flow and clean water and with abundant cobble and gravel with sand substrates in largely forested watersheds. Larvae have only been found in deep water where wading is difficult or impossible.

State Distribution: Good populations occur in the middle Saint Croix River and the upper Chippewa River. There is a small population in the lower Saint Croix River and the species has been reported sporadically from the lower Flambeau River. These streams harbor the only known populations anywhere, despite exhaustive surveys in the upper Midwest, in past several years.

Phenology: Adults are seldom seen even at sites where larvae or exuviae are common and apparently forage above the forest canopy. They are sometimes found around streamside bushes or open fields.

Management Guidelines: See the Ophiogomphus discussion section.



St. Croix Snaketail

Male St. Croix Snaketail Top View

Photo by W.A. Smith, WDNR.

St. Croix Snaketail

St. Criox Snaketails. Top - Male, Bottom - Female

Photo by W.A. Smith, WDNR.

St. Croix Snaketail

Close-up of Thorax of Male St. Croix Snaketail.

Photo by W.A. Smith, WDNR.

St. Croix Snaketail

Male St. Croix Snaketail.

Photo © Matt Berg.

St. Croix Snaketail

Male St. Croix Snaketail.

Photo © Matt Berg.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with St. Croix Snaketail. Only natural communities for which St. Croix Snaketail is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Natural community Score
Warmwater rivers 3

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for St. Croix Snaketail. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of St. Croix Snaketail occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020