E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Tanypteryx hageni
Black Petaltail
Family: Petaluridae
Species account author: Robert Cannings.
Extracted from Introducing the Dragonflies of British Columbia and the Yukon (2002)

Photo of species

© Ian Lane  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #1142)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Tanypteryx hageni in British Columbia
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Species Information


The body is black with yellow spots, the face yellow with separated brown eyes. Male’s upper appendages are flat and strongly angled outward. Female has a short, curved ovipositor. Length: ♂ 56 mm, ♀ 53 mm.

Flight Period

B.C., early July to early September.

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

Abundant fossils show that the petaltails flourished in the Jurassic Period, at least 150 million years ago, well before the landmass that is now B.C. and the Yukon existed. Today, 11 species persist in widely scattered regions — New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Japan, the Appalachian Mountains and western North America. The eyes of petaltails are separated and the pterostigma is long and narrow; females have an ovipositor. Larvae live where water seeps and trickles over the ground, and many species make burrows; they are amphibious, spending much time out of water.
Field Notes

Lives at mid to high elevations in the Cascade and southern Coast mountains, and at sea level on the central coast to about 53°N. Larvae burrow in mud and moss saturated by trickling water seeping from hillsides; many burrows can be concentrated in a small area. Adults perch on tree trunks, logs, rocks and the ground. They can be tame and frequently land on people.


Montane. In Canada, found only on B.C.’s mainland coast.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS3BlueNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-06-19 3:35:38 AM]
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