This dull-hued brown-blackish dragonfly varies in the length from 1.8 to 2.0 inches. The thorax has black stripes. The abdomen is mostly black with small yellow markings. Hind thighs are usually brown in the males, but pale in females with shins pale for both genders. The eyes differ between the genders as well. For males, eyes are gray to blue-gray. The females' eyes are gray to brown. Dusky clubtail is similar to rapids clubtail. Clubtail species are very similar to each other in some aspects, careful inspection is needed to identify them.
Common throughout northeastern United States and some parts of Canada, this species prefers boggy or marshy lakes and ponds, and slow sandy streams. Common in Wisconsin, it is widely distributed throughout the state.
Mid-May to late July in Wisconsin. It is one of the earliest clubtails to emerge.