eastern forktail

(Ischnura verticalis)

Conservation Status
eastern forktail
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Eastern forktail is a small, narrow-winged damselfly. It occurs east of the Rocky Mountains from Quebec and Georgia in the east to Manitoba and New Mexico in the west. It is very common in the northeast and Midwest, present but uncommon in the southern tier of states. It is abundant in Minnesota, where it has been reported in 81 of the state’s 87 counties.

Adults are to 13 16 (22 to 30 mm) long.

On the male, the face is green. The top of the head is black. The compound eyes are mostly green, black just on the top. There is a small, bright green, circular spot (postocular spot) behind each eye. The spots are not connected by a bar.

The thorax is black with narrow green shoulder stripes and pale green sides. The stripe is often narrowest at its length. On rare individuals, the stripe is broken, as it is on the closely related fragile forktail.

The abdomen is very slender and mostly black, with a pale, very narrow ring at the tip of each segment. Abdominal segments 8 and 9 are bright blue above and below, but on the sides they are black on the leading half and bright blue on the apical half. There is a forked projection on the upper side of segment 10 that gives this genus the common name forktails. The projection is blunt and is forked for half of its length. It points more upward than rearward, and does not extend beyond the tip of segment 10. The projection is too small to be used as a field mark, but may be discernible in photos.

The wings are clear and are distinctly narrowed (stalked) at the base. There are only two cross veins between the base of the wing and the wing notch (nodus). The median vein intersection, where the M3 vein rises to meet the M1 vein, occurs after the nodus, closer to the nodus than the basal cross vein (arculus).

The legs are short and armed with spines. They are black above and on the sides, pale blue below.

Immature females are black with orange markings. Abdominal segment 2 and the basal half of segment 3 are orange. Segments 4 through 10 are black. The back of the head, the postocular spots, and the legs are orange.

Mature females are entirely covered with a pale blue powdery bloom (pruinose), obscuring any black or blue markings that may or may not be there. The postocular spots are pale blue and are larger.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: to 13 16 (22 to 30 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Ponds, marshes, slow streams, and other wetlands

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Late May to early October

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Eastern forktail is a weak flier and is usually found low in vegetation. The wings are held together above the body when at rest.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Nymph Food

 
 

 

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flying insects

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 18, 24, 27, 29, 30, 72.

 
  4/8/2019      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Widespread and very common. Abundant in Minnesota.

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies)  
 

Suborder

Zygoptera (damselflies)  
 

Superfamily

Coenagrionoidea  
 

Family

Coenagrionidae (narrow-winged damselflies)  
 

Genus

Ischnura  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

eastern forktail

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Pruinescence

A waxy or powdery bloom that covers the underlying coloration and gives a dusty or frosty appearance.

 

 

 

 

 

       
Visitor Photos
   

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Alfredo Colon
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail    
       

Adult Male

  eastern forktail    
       

Adult Female

  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
  eastern forktail    
       

Immature Female

  eastern forktail    
       
Lynn Rubey
       

An eastern forktail in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge with the morning dew on the grass.

  eastern forktail   eastern forktail
       
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Adult Male

Rare form male with broken shoulder stripes

  eastern forktail    
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)
Bill Keim
 
  Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)  
     
  Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)  

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
   

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Other Videos
 
  Eastern Forktail (Coenagrionidae: Ischnura verticalis) Male Resting
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 7, 2010

Photographed at Itasca State Park, Minnesota (06 August 2010).

   
       
  Eastern Forktail (Coenagrionidae: Ischnura verticalis) Male Tail-flipping Behavior
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 7, 2010

Photographed at Itasca State Park, Minnesota (06 August 2010).

   
       
  Ischnura verticalis
DocBebitte
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 1, 2018

Agrion vertical (Ischnura verticalis) en train de manger une proie.

Google Translation: Agrion vertical (Ischnura verticalis) eating prey.

   
       
  Eastern Forktail Damselflies (Coenagrionidae: Ischnura verticalis) on Twig
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 9, 2011

Immature female (left) and adult male (right). Photographed in Wisconsin, just across the Mississippi River from Red Wing, Minnesota (04 August 2011) Thank you to John and Jane Balaban (@Bugguide.net) for indentifying the sex and identity of these specimens.

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   

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Alfredo Colon
10/6/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

eastern forktail


Lynn Rubey
8/25/2019

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

An eastern forktail in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge with the morning dew on the grass.

eastern forktail


Alfredo Colon
Summer 2018

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

eastern forktail


     
     
 
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Created: 4/8/2019

Last Updated:

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