Plants and Animals

Cordulegaster erronea Tiger spiketail

Key Characteristics

A large blackish dragonfly with green eyes, yellow thoracic stripes and bold yellow rings around the abdomen. Adults are fairly large, average 75 mm. Thorax has two wide yellow lateral stripes. Upper face black rear of head behind eyes black.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Kalamazoo 1 2016
Oceana 1 1934

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


These burrowers are found in lotic - depositional - headwater streams. Larvae are found in spring seepages and less frequently encountered in largers streams or at low elevations. Adults appear in river/stream/riparian/floodplain corridor. The males fly low slow patrols along shady streams, frequently hovering. Small spring trickles, too small for fish, in partial shade, sometimes gravelly without silt.

Specific Habitat Needs

Sandy substrate needed in: Bog

Sandy substrate, silt, detritus, slow gradient, rock and soft substrates needed in: Headwater stream (1st-2nd order), run; 

Slow gradient, rock and soft substrates needed in: Headwater stream (1st-2nd order), riffle; Headwater stream (1st-2nd order), pool; Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), pool; 

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

There is a lack of scientific knowledge of this species, therefore, threats and management recommendations are difficult. Likely highly impacted by habitat degradation.

Survey Methods

Search the banks and protruding rocks of rapid streams for exuviae (cast skin of dragonfly larvae). The males fly low slow patrols along shady streams, frequently hovering. Males forage in fields, swamps, and along trails late in the day until dusk. Males fly from about 10 am to as late as 7pm, peaking about 6 pm. When encountering emergent grass, they do not reverse direction but fly off through the forest seeking other trickles. Periodically they perch obliquely on twigs from near the ground to 15 ft up.

D-frame net

Survey Period: From first week of January to fourth week of December

Time of Day: Daytime
Water Level: Low Water Levels
Water Turbidity: Low Turbidity
Survey Method Comment: Larvae

Exuvia survey

Survey Period: From third week of May to fourth week of August

Time of Day: Daytime
Survey Method Comment: Larvae/Adults

Visual, aerial net

Survey Period: From third week of May to first week of September

Time of Day: Afternoon
Survey Method Comment: Adults


Survey References

  • Foster, S.E. and D.A. Soluk. 2004. Evaluating exuvia collection as a management tool for the federally endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly, Somatochlora hineana Williamson (Odonata: Cordulidae). Biological Conservation 118: 15-20.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Corbet, P. S. 1962. A Biology of Dragonflies. H.F. & G. Witherby Ltd., facsimile reprint 1983 by E.W. Classey Ltd., Oxon, United Kingdom. 247pp.
  • Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonflies through Binoculars. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 266pp.
  • Louton, J.A. 1982. Lotic dragonfly (Anisoptera: Odonoata) nymphs of the Southeastern United States: identification, distribution, and historical biogeography. A Dissertation, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 357pp.
  • McCafferty, W. P. 1981. Aquatic Entomology: The fisherman's and ecologists' illustrated guide to insects and their relatives. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Boston. 448pp.
  • Merritt, R.W. and K.W. Cummins. 1996. An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America, 3rd ed. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque. 862pp.