A Rambur’s Forktail damselfly (Ischnura ramburii) was spotted at Mason Neck West Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature heteromorph female, as indicated by the reddish-orange coloration of her thorax and abdominal segments one and two (S1-2), and reddish-orange postocular spots; her coloration will become duller as she matures. Andromorph females are colored like males.
This sighting was another reminder of one of many Walterisms: Don’t be dismissive! Huh? Male Rambur’s Forktail damselflies look similar to male Eastern Forktail damselflies (Ischnura verticalis). Eastern Forktails are relatively common, especially during spring and early-summer. Common. That’s the key word. When I noticed several male Rambur’s Forktails at the water retention pond I thought, “Oh, Eastern Forktails. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.” Fortunately I spotted the immature heteromorph female and realized the error of my ways.
I’ll say it again: Don’t be dismissive — that kind of thinking can result in missed opportunities for wildlife photographers. I never expected to see Rambur’s Forktails at Mason Neck West Park and my preconceptions almost caused me to miss a golden opportunity to see a relatively uncommon damselfly.
Related Resources: Excellent digital scans created by Gayle and Jeanelle Strickland. Click on the button labeled “Download file” in order to view full-size version of the graphics.
- Ischnura ramburii female #2 | heteromorph female | JPG
- Ischnura ramburii female #8 | andromorph female | JPG
- Ischnura ramburii male #2 | male | JPG
Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.
Tags: andromorph, Eastern Forktail damselfly, heteromorph, immature female, Ischnura ramburii, Ischnura verticalis, male, Mason Neck West Park, polymorphic, Rambur's Forktail damselfly, wildlife photography