Sunday, February 4, 2018

Lilypad Forktail Damselfly Habitats: Abdominal Tips On, Not Over, Pads

Summary: Abdominal tips uniquely rest on, not over, pad surfaces in North American lilypad forktail damselfly habitats in Atlantic, Great Lakes and Gulf states.

lilypad forktail damselfly (Ischnura kellicotti) at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington DC; July 22, 2012: Judy Gallagher (judygva), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

North American lilypad forktail damselfly habitats adjust to cultivation along watersides and to Atlantic and Gulf coastal distribution ranges inland to Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Ontario, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Lilypad forktails bear their common name, because of fork-tipped abdomens and lily-pad perches, bestowed by scientific committees brought together by the Dragonfly Society of the Americas. The scientific name Ischnura kellicotti (Kellicott's thin tail) commemorates David Simons Kellicott (Jan. 28, 1842-April 13, 1898) of Ohio State University's Department of Zoology and Entomology. Descriptions by Edward Bruce Williamson (July 10, 1877-Feb. 28, 1933), Longfield Iris Farm owner-operator and University of Michigan Museum of Zoology odonate curator, decide scientific designations.
Lilypad forktail damselfly lifespans expect lakes and ponds with extensive beds of floating water lily pads, emphasizing the Nuphar and Nymphaea genera and employing water shields.

February through December function as maximum, most southerly flight seasons even though July furnishes wildlife mapping opportunities throughout all of North America's lilypad forktail habitat niches.
Lilypad forktail damselflies rarely go far from water lily leaf bottoms or from water lily pad tops since they never grow long legs or strong wings. They have weak flight patterns because of small wings and hunker into low, non-fluttering, rapid, streaking flight, against predators and winds, from one perch to another. They incline horizontally over, with abdominal tips as predator-deflectors, in contact with pad surfaces until impelling abdomens backward and legs into the air prefatory to flight.
Ants, assassin flies, biting midges, ducks, falcons, fish, flycatchers, frogs, grebes, lizards, spiders, turtles and water beetles and mites jeopardize North American lilypad forktail damselfly habitats.

Immature red-orange-winged lilypad forktails keep to blue colors brightening as mature males or lightening as andromorphs (male-like females) or to red-orange colors as heteromorphs (female-like females).
Egg-hatched larvae, also labelled naiads or nymphs, leave life cycle stages on the undersides of lily pads for above-water maturity as molted, temporarily shiny-winged, soft-bodied tenerals. Females make one lifetime, 20-minute mating, in the morning, and, without mates, manage 20-minute ovipositing (egg-laying) into live, upright stems of lake and pond emergent vegetation. 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 lilypad forktail damselfly habitats offer season-coldest temperatures, northward to southward, from minus 45 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42.77 to minus 9.44 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 lilypad forktails.
Black abdomens and dorsal and shoulder stripes, black-capped green eyes, blue postocular spots, clear wings and dull or light powdery blue thoraxes quicken adult female identifications. Adult males reveal black abdomens with bright blue segments, black-capped dark blue eyes, blue large postocular spots and blue thoraxes with black dorsal and shoulder stripes. Adults show off 0.98- to 1.22-inch (25- to 31-millimeter) head-body lengths, 0.98- to 0.94-inch (19- to 24-millimeter) abdomens and 0.47- to 0.71-inch (12- to 18-millimeter) hindwings.
Never touching abdominal tips and pad surfaces tells on cherry, orange, scarlet and skimming bluets and eastern forktails in overlapping North American lilypad forktail damselfly habitats.

(above) male lilypad forktail damselfly (Ischnura kellicotti) and (below) female lilypad forktail damselfly: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-New England District, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
lilypad forktail damselfly (Ischnura kellicotti) at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington DC; July 22, 2012: Judy Gallagher (judygva), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @
(above) male lilypad forktail damselfly (Ischnura kellicotti) and (below) female lilypad forktail damselfly: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-New England District, Public Domain, 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. David S. Kellicott in the U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Available @,%20USA&msypn=38&msypn_PInfo=5-%7C0%7C1652393%7C0%7C2%7C0%7C38%7C0%7C0%7C0%7C0%7C0%7C&msddy=1898&msdpn__ftp=ohio&catbucket=rstp&MSAV=1&uidh=ft7&pcat=ROOT_CATEGORY&h=53874046&dbid=60525&indiv=1&ml_rpos=2
Beaton, Giff. Dragonflies & Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. Athens GA; London UK: University of Georgia Press, 2007.
Berger, Cynthia. Dragonflies. Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole Books: Wild Guide, 2004.
Bright, Ethan. "Ischnura kellicotti Williamson, 1898: 209 -- Lilypad Forktail." Aquatic Insects of Michigan > Odonata (Dragon- and Damselflies) of Michigan > Zygoptera Selys, 1854 > Coenagrionidae, Kirby, 1890 (Pond Damselflies) > Ischnura Charpentier, 1840 (Forktails).
Available @
"Ischnura kellicotti." 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.
Williamson, E.B. (Edward Bruce). "A New Species of Ischnura (Order Odonata): Ischnura kellicotti n. sp." Entomological News and Proceedings of the Entomological Section of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, vol. IX, no. 9 (November 1898): 209-211. Philadelphia PA: Entomological Rooms of The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1898.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @

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