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.
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.
Immature female forktails, like the female Rambur’s Forktail shown in the fourth picture, often have orange to red coloration.
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.
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.
Black-fronted Forktails are a Southwest specialty.
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.