Dateline: April 3, 2015*
Notwithstanding their common name, I’ll start by clarifying that they aren’t all ladies. After all, in North America the order odonata need male and female to reproduce. I’m not clear how these insects acquired their common name. Damselflies are an interesting group of insects. Predatory in both larval and adult stages, these are insects you really want to visit your beautiful wildlife garden since mosquitoes are on the menu.
Pretty much attracting damselflies (Suborder Anisoptera) goes hand in hand with attracting dragonflies (Suborder Zygoptera). They have similar needs. Water source, no pesticides and some dry brush as landing stations. They have slightly different looks which makes differentiating the suborders pretty easy.
This is the Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata) one of the Narrow-winged Damselflies (Family Coenagrionidae). The Citrine Forktail is said to be the smallest damselfly in North America.This species behaves a little differently than a lot of odonata. I often see them far away from the water, landing on grasses in the meadow. This year they are in record numbers at my place. I sometimes see 3, 4 and 5 at a time often just before dusk. Considering that they are about an inch or less long, it is pretty amazing that I can see them at all.
Unlike many damselfly species, the Citrine Forktail pair doesn’t stay together in a copulating posture while laying eggs. Mom goes it alone, laying eggs on vegetation on or near the surface of the water.
The color variations on this species are vast. There is an orange female and an olive female (which sometimes looks pale blue to me). The males have yellow abdomens with greenish color bodies/heads.
It is nice to see this delicate insect flitting from sedge to sedge. And knowing that they may be munching on some biting insects in the process makes them a personal favorite in my beautiful wildlife garden.
*This is a tale originally published by Loret T. Setters on April 3, 2015 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.