Ischnura cervula
(Pacific Forktail)

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Zygoptera
Order Description:
Family: Coenagrionidae
Family Description: Forktail

   Naiad- This is a small naiad about ¾ inch (15 to 18 mm). It has the typical slender immature damselfly shape. It is dark with light bands.
   Adult- This is a small damselfly about 1 to 1 ½ inches (26 to 32 mm). The male has pale blue on the side of the thorax, 4 blue spots on top of the thorax, and a black abdomen with segments eight and nine colored bright blue. Most females are brown, but some are colored very similarly to males. Both color forms of the females become pruinose with age.

This species is found from southern British Columbia east to Alberta, and south to New Mexico and Baja California. In Idaho it is found throughout the state.

This damselfly occurs at almost all lowland still-water habitats in the state, but is most abundant in semi-arid areas at alkaline ponds.

Adult Flight Season:
April 15 to October 15

   Naiad- Naiads eat a wide variety of aquatic insects, including mosquito larvae, mayfly larvae, and other aquatic fly larvae.
   Adult- Adults eat a wide variety of small soft-bodied flying insects, such as mosquitoes, mayflies, flies and small moths. They will also pick small insects such as aphids off of plants.

Naiads of this species are often found in aquatic vegetation. This is the first damselfly to emerge in the spring, and one of the last seen in the fall.

The males set up territories at choice breeding sites. After males and females mate, the female Western Forktail oviposits, or lays eggs, singly (without the male attached) in floating vegetation.

Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.

Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.

HTML by Marty Peck, 2001.