BURBANK, Okla. (KFOR) — They might be flying other places nearby, but right now this low water crossing over Salt Creek in Osage County is the only reliable spot on the planet to find a rare sub-species of dragonfly called the Howery’s Clubtail.
That’s it right there with a lot of yellow on his abdomen, bigger at the business end which is shaped kind of like a club.
“This one is pretty far west,” says biologist Brenda ‘Bee’ Smith.
She spent years studying the dragonflies of Oklahoma, especially the rare ones.
The Ozark Clubtail, for instance, can only be found in a four state area in fast moving streams among the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains.
But there is a small limestone shelf in the Osage Hills, separate from the plateaus to the east, where a sub-species developed its own markings.
Smith says, “We looked at it and said, ‘What is that?’ It looked a lot like an Ozark Clubtail but there was something different about it.”
Mark Howery is a non-game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
He too spent years coordinating this dragonfly study and many others.
Howery says, “I’m kind of a cross between a scientist, a naturalist, and a population manager.”
When Smith and her team confirmed they had a new sub-species on their hands, they couldn’t think of a better friend and collaborator to attach a name.
She says, “His whole life has been about conserving plants and animals.”
Howery himself responds, “It’s a tremendous honor.”
That came after the difficult job of capturing several specimens.
Smith says, “You have to sneak up behind them really slowly, crouch down, and drop the net over them.”
The Howery’s Clubtail spends the first years of its life cycle as a nymph in the water.
It’s just emerging for the first time this summer with a new name.
Smith has a book on Oklahoma dragonflies coming out this summer to make it official.
Biologist and bug, Gomphurus Ozarkensis Howery are connected forever.
For more information on Smith’s new book, click here.
For more information about dragonflies in Oklahoma, visit the study’s webpage.