Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rambur's Forktail Damselfly Habitats: Blue Tips, Golden or Tan Sides

Summary: North American Rambur's forktail damselfly habitats from Atlantic, Gulf and southwestern states through Venezuela get blue-tipped, light-sided abdomens.

female orange-form of Rambur's forktail damselfly (Ischnura ramburii) at Grand Canyon, north central Arizona; Feb. 18, 2016: Charlesjsharp, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

North American Rambur's forktail damselfly habitats assist arborists, master gardeners and master naturalists with Atlantic coastal, Gulf coastal and southwestern distribution ranges in the United States southward into Caribbean America and Venezuela.
Rambur's forktails bear their common name and the scientific name Ischnura ramburii (Rambur's thin tail), with namesake status, as pond damselflies with fork-tipped, long, slender abdomens. The common and scientific names respectively contain the namesakes Rambur's and ramburii to commemorate Jules Pierre Rambur (July 21, 1801-Aug. 10, 1870), entomologist from Chinon, France. Scientific designations delve into descriptions in 1850 by Michel Edmond de Sélys Longchamps (May 25, 1813-Dec. 11, 1900), collector of net- and straight-winged insect family specimens.
Rambur's forktail damselfly lifespans expect brackish or fresh, not salt, water, coastal or lowland ditches, lakes, marshes, ponds or swamps and slow reaches of sunlit streams.

January through December function as maximum, most southerly flight seasons even though July furnishes wildlife mapping opportunities throughout all of North America's Rambur's forktail damselfly niches.
Adult females and males gather along open, sunny edges of waterside vegetation and of watery habitats atop adjoining foraging or mating perches and successive sleeping roosts. Lilypad forktails harbor territorial hostilities against orange and skimming bluet damselflies on white lilies whereas female Rambur's forktails hanker toward cannibalism of mated and non-mated males. Of the one male morph and the two female color forms, the orange-red heteromorph (female-, not male-like, female) indulges in cannibalism against other and same species.
Ants, biting midges, ducks, falcons, fish, flycatchers, frogs, grebes, lizards, robber flies, spiders, turtles and water beetles and mites jeopardize North American Rambur's forktail damselfly habitats.

Immature female Rambur's forktail damselflies keep blue-olive-green color forms as andromorphs (male-like females) or orange-red as heteromorphs (female-like females) whereas immature males know only green morphs.
All immature Rambur's forktails live as egg-hatched, multi-molting larvae, naiads or nymphs until incomplete metamorphosis leads them into adult stages as shiny-winged, soft-bodied tenerals and adults. They move into mature stages to mate for 200 minutes to seven hours and then to manipulate eggs without help into floating debris, leaves and stems. Forktail members of the Coenagrionidae pond damsel family need aphids, beetles, borers, caddisflies, copepods, crane flies, dobsonflies, gnats, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, rotifers, scuds, water fleas and worms.
North American Rambur's forktail damselfly habitats offer season-coldest temperature ranges, northward to southward, from minus 15 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 26.11 to 1.66 degrees Celsius).

Beech, bellflower, birch, bladderwort, cattail, daisy, grass, greenbrier, heath, laurel, madder, maple, nettle, olive, pepperbush, pine, pondweed, rush, sedge, water-lily and willow families promote Rambur's forktails.
Black abdomens with green or red segments, green eyes and faces and green or red thoraxes with black stripes and brown shoulders quicken adult female identifications. Males reveal black abdomens with blue, green and yellow-orange segments, black-capped green eyes, black-striped green thoraxes and blue lips, blue eyespots, dark heads and green faces. Adults show off 1.06- to 1.42-inch (27- to 36-millimeter) head-body lengths, 0.83- to 1.14-inch (21- to 29-millimeter) abdomens and 0.59- to 0.75-inch (15- to 19-millimeter) hindwings.
Absence of blue tips and male golden or female tan sides on black abdomens turns in other forktails in overlapping North American Rambur's forktail damselfly habitats.

male Rambur's forktail damselfly (Ischnura ramburii) at Grand Canyon, north central Arizona; Feb. 18, 2016: Charlesjsharp, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
female orange-form of Rambur's forktail damselfly (Ischnura ramburii) at Grand Canyon, north central Arizona; Feb. 18, 2016: Charlesjsharp, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons @
male Rambur's forktail damselfly (Ischnura ramburii) at Grand Canyon, north central Arizona; Feb. 18, 2016: Charlesjsharp, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons @

For further information:
Abbott, John C. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Princeton NJ; Oxford UK: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Beaton, Giff. Dragonflies & Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. Athens GA; London UK: University of Georgia Press, 2007.
Berger, Cynthia. Dragonflies. Mehanicsburg PA: Stackpole Books: Wild Guide, 2004.
Bright, Ethan. "Ischnura Charpentier, 1840 (Forktails)." Aquatic Insects of Michigan > Odonata (Dragon- and Damselflies) of Michigan > Zygoptera Selys, 1854 > Coenagrionidae, Kirby, 1890 (Pond Damselflies).
Available @
"Ischnura ramburii." James Cook University-Medusa: The Odonata - Dragonflies and Damselflies > Zygoptera > Coenagrionidae > Ischnura.
Available via James Cook University-Medusa @
Paulson, Dennis. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, Princeton Field Guides, 2011.
Rambur, M. P. (Jules Pierre). "24. Agrion senegalense, mihi." Histoire Naturelle des Insectes: Névroptères: 276-277. Paris, France: Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, 1842.
Available via HathiTrust @
Available via Internet Archive @
Sélys Longchamps, Edm. (Edmond) de; Hermann August Hagen. "Agrion Ramburii." Revue des Odonates ou Libellules d'Europe. Memoires de la Société Royale des Sciences de Liege, tome 6: 186. Bruxelles, Belgium; Leipzig, Germany: C. [Charles] Muquardt; Paris, France: [Nicolas-Edme] Roret, 1850.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Available via Gallica @
Available via HathiTrust @

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