Meet the Forktail Damselflies

picture of a fragile forktail damselfly, one of the fortail damselflies series

Fourteen different forktail species (Ischnura) call North America home. As with the Bluets and Dancers, Forktail damselflies fly year round in their southern most ranges. The common name refers to a small part of the spine that extends below the abdomen. It is usually not visible in the field.

The Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita), a very common Eastern pond damselfly, flies from spring to fall.

The broken line on the top of the thorax, or exclamation point as it is often called, serves as the principle field identification clue.

Males have green to yellow coloration on the thorax, females have blue coloration. The top picture shows a male.

picture of a male pacific forktail damselfly
The Pacific Forktail (Ischnura cervula), a very common Western species, is also one of the easiest to identify.

Males, like the one pictured, display four light dots at the corners of the thorax. The picture also highlights the green eyes.

picture of an immature female Rambur's Forktail damselfly
Immature female forktails, like the female Rambur’s Forktail shown in the fourth picture, often have orange to red coloration.

picture of a male Rambur's Forktail damselfly

Rambur’s forktail is a common species found along the southern half of North America. The male can be recognized by the green thorax and blue tip of the abdomen.

picture of a Citrine Forktail
The orange color of the Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata) possibly makes it an easy identification. Beware. They share an overlappig territory with the Rambur’s Forktail and some immature Rambur’s have an orange coloration. Look for an orange abdomen and a very thin black strip on the side of the thorax for the Citrine Forktail.

picture of a Black-fronted Forktail damselfly
Black-fronted Forktails are a Southwest specialty.

picture of an Eastern Forktail damselfly
Eastern Forktails (Ischnura verticalis) might be the most common damselfly seen east of the Rocky Mountains. The green and black thorax represents the first field clue. The blue tip at the end of the abdomen provides a contrast in color. Black spots are usually visible on the sides of the blue ends.