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Ischnura damula
Plains Forktail
Family: Coenagrionidae
Species account author: Robert Cannings.
Extracted from Introducing the Dragonflies of British Columbia and the Yukon (2002)


© George Doerksen     (Photo ID #1014)


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Distribution of Ischnura damula in British Columbia.
(Click on the map to view a larger version.)
Source: (for the static map) RBCM and BCCDC 2004 ©

Species Information


Male’s coloration is like the Pacific Forktail’s; appendages shown in figure. Female’s thorax is often similar to the male’s, or has pale spots on top joined into stripes; it may also be tan to pink. The abdomen’s tip is blue. Females are less prone than Pacific Forktails to darken with pruinescence; they have a vulvar spine. Length: ♂ 28 mm, ♀ 27 mm.

Flight Period

B.C., late June to mid August.

Genus Description

Found almost everywhere dragonflies live, though mostly absent from boreal habitats; distribution in North America is decidedly southern. B.C. has four species, but only the two most widespread – the Pacific Forktail and the Western Forktail – are encountered often. None are found in the Yukon. Male forktails in B.C. are mostly black, blue and green. The abdomen is black above and has a blue tip; the last segment bears a distinct forked projection on top, which gives the group its English name. Females may be the same colour as males or may have a tan, pink or orange thorax when immature; they may darken with extensive pruinescence as they age. Larvae are similar to those of bluets, but the gills usually have long, tapered tips.


Family Description

Small damselflies that normally perch with wings closed above the abdomen. Most males are blue marked with black, but the main colour may be green, yellow, orange, red or purple. Females often have two colour forms per species, one similar to the male (usually blue). Females lay eggs in the tissues of water plants, sometimes completely submerging themselves for a long time while laying. Larave are not as long as spreadwing larave and have short labia, unstalked at the base. There are six genera and 18 species of pond damsels in our region. The American Bluets (Enallagma) and forktails (Ischnura) are the most common groups.
Field Notes

The isolated population at Liard River Hot Springs is probably a relic of a more widespread distribution during a warmer climatic period. Closely related to the Pacific Forktail and similar in appearance, but in B.C., the ranges of the two species do not overlap.


Western. In B.C., found only at Liard River Hot Springs on the Alaska Highway.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS1S3RedNot Listed

BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.