Calvert County Damselflies & Dragonflies: Part 19 – Forktail/Sprite Damselflies of the Family Coenagrionidae Family: Coenagrionidae (Forktails/Sprites)

Family: Coenagrionidae (Forktails/Sprites)

This is the third and final family of damselflies to be examined in this series of posts. Due to the large number of species present for the Coenagrionidae damselfly family, I have been breaking down this particular family into smaller segments. This is the final grouping within this family and this will also conclude the review of the various Odonata families found in Calvert County and the surrounding counties of Charles and St. Marys.

In Richard Orr’s Maryland database, there are five species of Forktail damselfly species listed as present in at least one of the three southern Maryland counties and two species of Sprites. Four of the seven species are present in all three counties. Six of the seven species have been reported in Charles County with four and five species reported for St. Marys and Calvert Counties, respectively. One of the Forktail species is on the S3 Watch List and both of the Sprite species are on the S1 or S2 list.

Unlike the the iNaturalist observation database for most damselflies in the southern Maryland counties that is very sparse, the number of observations for this group is significantly greater (as of May, 2020). This has been in large part skewed by my own abundant observations of Rambur’s Forktails. Currently there are not any observations for two of the Forktail species and none for the two Sprite species. St. Marys County has a total of four observations for two species (Rambur’s x 3, Fragile x 1), and Charles County also has four observations but for a single species (Eastern). Calvert County is discussed below.

During the summer of 2019, I developed a fascination for Rambur’s Forktails. They were the first species of damselfly that I had ever bothered to examine closely. This was due in large part because they could easily be observed in my own yard. A portion of my yard is in contact with a brackish body of water (Lake Charming) and once I discovered the existence of this particular species, I could observe them on a daily basis. I was rewarded with my first views of damselfly mating behavior, but also confronted with the challenge of trying to photograph such a small insect. Of the 25 Calvert County Rambur’s Forktails observations in the iNaturalist database, 21 are mine. My observations in 2019 started on 24 June and they were last observed in mid-October. In 2020 my first observation of a Rambur’s Forktail in the yard area was on May 8th, the day before a frost warning struck the area. The identification has not been confirmed (i.e., not research grade). No other individuals were sighted until yesterday (May 25th). A male and a female were observed, but I was only able to capture the female photographically. The second forktail damselfly recorded for Calvert County is the Fragile Forktail. Four of the seven observations were recorded recently (spring, 2020) including two from me.

Listed below are the species within this group that have been observed in at least one of the southern Maryland counties and a comparison of the two databases is made (as of May, 2020). As was done with the previous family, I have included notes extracted from the book “Natural History of DelMarVa Dragonflies and Damselflies” by Hal White (reference 1). Of particular relevance for Calvert County, I have also included information on the four species that were observed at the Cove Point LNG Property and reported in “2011-2012 Survey of the Dragonflies and Damseflies (Odonata) of the Cove Point LNG Property (Calvert County, Maryland” by Richard Orr (reference 2).

Citrine Forktail/Ischnura hastata
In the Azores, researchers discovered a population of Citrine Forktails that were able to produce fertile eggs in the absence of males. This is the only documented case of parthenogenesis in damselflies or dragonflies. (1)
Cove Point adult abundance and flight period – uncommon/21-Apr to 30-Sept. (2)
iNaturalist research grade observations:​ Calvert = 0​ St. Marys = 0 Charles = 0
MD Biodiversity (i.e., Richard Orr):​ Calvert – present St. Marys – present ​Charles - present

Lilypad Forktail/Ischnura kellicotti
S3 Watch List (see below for definition)
Many species of damselflies and dragonflies exhibit sexual dimorphism (male and female look different). In the case of Lilypad Forktails, the females also exhibit polychromism and can be found in three different color forms. (1)
iNaturalist research grade observations:​ Calvert = 0 St. Marys = 0 Charles = 0
MD Biodiversity (i.e., Richard Orr):​ Calvert – X St. Marys – X Charles - present

Fragile Forktail/Ischnura posita
Fragile Forktails are our most common and widespread damselfly. They have a wide habitat tolerance and can be found at nearly every pond, marsh, or slow-moving stream. (1)
Cove Point adult abundance and flight period – abundant/01-Apr to 30-Sept. (2)
iNaturalist research grade observations:​ Calvert = 7 (Mar-May) St. Marys = 1 (Jul) Charles = 0
MD Biodiversity (i.e., Richard Orr):​ Calvert – present St. Marys – present Charles - present

Rambur’s Forktail/Ischnura ramburii
Damselflies identification is often based on the species-specific shape of the appendages at the tip of the abdomen which the male uses to grasp the female during mating. (1)
Cove Point adult abundance and flight period – abundant/21-Apr to 14-Oct. (2)
iNaturalist research grade observations:​ Calvert = 24 (May-Oct) St. Marys = 3 (Jun-Sept) Charles = 0
MD Biodiversity (i.e., Richard Orr):​ Calvert – present St. Marys – present Charles - present

Eastern Forktail/Ischnura verticalis
Female Eastern Forktails mate only once and carry up to 2,000 eggs. (1)
Cove Point adult abundance and flight period – common/21-Apr to 30-Sept. (2)
iNaturalist research grade observations:​ Calvert = 0 St. Marys = 0 Charles = 4 (Apr-Sept)
MD Biodiversity (i.e., Richard Orr):​ Calvert – present St. Marys – present Charles – present

Sphagnum Sprite/Nehalennia gracilis
S2 Watch List (see below for definition)
The Sphagnum Sprite, as its name implies, lives in sphagnum-choked bogs and fens. (1)
iNaturalist research grade observations:​ Calvert = 0 St. Marys = 0 Charles = 0
MD Biodiversity (i.e., Richard Orr):​ Calvert – X St. Marys – X Charles - present

Southern Sprite/Nehalennia integricollis
S1/S2 Watch List (see below for definition)
The Southern Sprite is one of our smallest damselflies. It is easly overlooked because it is inconspicuous and rarely flies unless disturbed. (1)
iNaturalist research grade observations:​ Calvert = 0 St. Marys = 0 Charles = 0
MD Biodiversity (i.e., Richard Orr):​ Calvert – present St. Marys – X Charles - X

Definitions from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources “List of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Animals of Maryland”:
S1 - Critically Imperiled / Highly State Rare — At very high risk of extinction or extirpation due to very restricted range, very few populations or occurrences, very steep declines, very severe threats, or other factors. Typically occurring in five or fewer populations.

S2 - Imperiled / State Rare — At high risk of extinction or extirpation due to restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, severe threats, or other factors. Typically occurring in 6-20 populations.

S3 - Vulnerable / Watchlist — At moderate risk of extinction or extirpation due to a fairly restricted range, relatively few populations or occurrences, recent and widespread declines, threats, or other factors. Typically occurring in 21-80 populations.

Publicado por rosalie-rick rosalie-rick, 26 de mayo de 2020

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