Pacific Forktail

One of the most common damselflies in California, the Pacific forktail (Ischnura cervula), inhabits vegetation near ponds, lakes and creeks with abundant plant life and fairly still water. Pacific forktails were feeding among lady’s thumb smartweeds as I was photographing the plants recently (Tule River in Shasta County CA).

Found throughout the western half of the United States, Pacific forktails are small damselflies with black abdomens that have blue only on the abdomen tip (segments 8 and 9). The top of the thorax is black with four small blue spots – one at each “corner”. The thorax sides are blue. The eyes are set far apart on the head giving a hammerhead appearance.

Damselflies are weak flyers and thus are rarely found far from the water where they perch on vegetation. Unescorted females (male does not accompany the female) lay their eggs on floating vegetation. The life cycle of the Northern bluet is typical of damselflies.

Pacific forktails fly very early in the season and are one of the first damselflies seen in the spring.

I was “focusing” on the lady’s thumbs but got a bonus with the blue and black Pacific forktail.

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2 Responses to Pacific Forktail

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Wonderful shots of the damselfly–I find damselflies to be really hard to photograph well, because of their slenderness.


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