The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 189 Odonate species

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Related Species in COENAGRIONIDAE: Number of records for 2024 = 1

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Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti) by Mark Shields
Compare with: Skimming Bluet  
Identification Tips: Move the cursor over the image, or tap the image if using a mobile device, to reveal ID Tips.
Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Lilypad Forktail
Flight Charts
Distribution Spottily distributed over most of the Coastal Plain and the eastern third of the Piedmont; also sparingly in the mountains and foothills. Many gaps in the range (records for less than half of the counties within the Coastal Plain and Piedmont portion of the range). Might be truly absent in some counties in the western Piedmont and parts of the mountains.
Abundance Uncommon to locally common in the Sandhills and at Suggs Millpond (= Horseshoe Lake) in Bladen County. Rare to locally uncommon elsewhere in the Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont. Rare in the foothills/mountain part of the range. Ought to be present in the western parts of the Piedmont and at least the lower mountain counties.
Flight In the Coastal Plain, it occurs from early March to early October. The Piedmont flight occurs from mid-May (and likely earlier) to late September. The few mountain dates fall from late May to mid-October, suprisingly late.
Habitat As the common name implies, it is essentially found only at lakes or ponds with lilypads.

See also Habitat Account for General Herbaceous Ponds
Behavior Adults can be identified by their habit of curving the abdomen such that the club touches the lilypad. Note, however, that male Skimming Bluets, quite similar-looking to male Lilypad Forktails, also will bend their abdomen down to a lilypad. You may need to take a photo of your damselfly to be certain. (And, male Cherry Bluets also perch on lily pads, and can be mistaken for immature female Lilypad Forktails.)
Comments There is much opportunity for biologists to "fill in the holes" in the range map with new county records. In fact, several new county records were added in 2016 and 2017, and a mountain county (Avery) was added in 2021. Additional new counties were added in 2022. The species is considered to be "Common below the Fall Line" in GA (Beaton 2007), and in NC it can be at least locally quite common at a few lakes and ponds in the southern Coastal Plain/Sandhills.

The number of recent records, as compared with those older collection records by Cuyler, suggests that the species is likely increasing in numbers and range in the state. A few other species, typically those of man-made lakes and ponds (e.g., Two-striped Forceptail, Roseate Skimmer), also show this pattern of certain increase and/or spreading inland. The State Rank was thus moved by the N.C. Natural Heritage Program from S3S4 to S4 a few years ago.
State Rank S4
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-18 17:21:22

Photo Gallery for Lilypad Forktail   36 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Becky Elkin and Jim Petranka

Comment: Haywood, 2023-07-06, Lake Logan, on waterlilies. - Male
Photo 2 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Richmond; C, 2023-05-07, McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery
Photo 3 by: Lori Arent, Harry LeGrand

Comment: Bladen, 2023-04-21, several locations in Bladen County - adult males; on lily pads at Suggs Mill Pond; photo by Lori Arent
Photo 4 by: Kevin Metcalf

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2022-07-09, Approx. 20 seen, probably more present, including pairs in
Photo 5 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Richmond; C, 2022-06-25, Sandhill Game Lands - Broadacres Lake - ad.male
Photo 6 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Hoke, 2022-06-19, Nicholson Creek Game Land - 2 ad. males
Photo 7 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Dare; Mainland, 2022-06-10, Milltail Creek, Alligator River NWR; from Buffalo City launch to Alligator River and back, by kayak - first record for county
Photo 8 by: Max Ramey

Comment: Avery, 2021-08-15, Wildcat Lake - First county record, abundant at this site
Photo 9 by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger

Comment: Moore; P, 2020-05-13
Photo 10 by: Doug Allen

Comment: Polk; P, 2020-04-20, Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE)
Photo 11 by: Hunter Phillips

Comment: Onslow, 2019-04-30, Private pond off Folkstone Road
Photo 12 by: R Emmitt and super DSA crew!

Comment: Scotland, 2018-05-11, Scotland Lake
Photo 13 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Cumberland, 2018-04-22, Lake Rim. Abundant on lily pads. Only a small area of lake surveyed by kayak.
Photo 14 by: John Petranka

Comment: Carteret, 2018-04-19, Along Patsy Pond Green Trail and at Lilypad Pond, Croatan National Forest. - Both sexes. one teneral female.
Photo 15 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Carteret, 2018-02-27, Ponds along Patsy Pond Nature Trail, Croatan National Forest. Photo of female.
Photo 16 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Orange, 2017-09-09, Pond at Twin Creeks Park near junction of Eubanks Road and Old NC 86 (35.959266, -79.104926) - Mostly Males.
Photo 17 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Washington, 2017-06-16, Conaby Creek, from boating access area to 2.25 km upstream by kayak - first record for county
Photo 18 by: Mark Shields, Chris Hill

Comment: Carteret, 2017-05-19, Ponds along Patsy Pond Nature Trail, Croatan National Forest
Photo 19 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Brunswick, 2017-05-02, North Lake and Spring Lake parks, Boiling Spring Lakes
Photo 20 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Brunswick, 2017-04-12, North Lake and Spring Lake parks, Boiling Spring Lakes
Photo 21 by: Mark Shields

Comment: New Hanover, 2017-04-10, limesink ponds at Carolina Beach State Park - 6 individuals and 14 pairs in wheel on lilypads in Lily Pond
Photo 22 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2016-09-05, Holly Shelter Game Land, waterfowl impoundment
Photo 23 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Tyrrell, 2016-06-19, Lily-filled roadside ditch along NC Highway 94
Photo 24 by: John Petranka

Comment: Burke; P, 2016-05-11, Table Rock Fish Hatchery. Atypical habitat; no lilypads at this site; single male seen perched on a rock at edge of pond. Photo.
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Bladen, 2015-07-18, Suggs Mill Pond (aka Horseshoe Lake) - several pairs in wheel position on lily pads
Photo 26 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Watauga, 2015-07-02, Bass Lake, Moses Cone Memorial Park. - Males on lilypads.
Photo 27 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Jones, 2014-05-04 - Waterfowl impoundment
Photo 28 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Wake, 2013-08-16, Harris Lake-paddling the shore NE of New Hill-Holleman Rd. - 13 males and 2 females
Photo 29 by: Kyle Kittelberger

Comment: Lee, 2013-06-12, Lilypad lake near intersection of Cedar Lane Rd and US 1 - I believe this is a first record for Lee County; very abundant, probably many more at the lake. Female photographed in this image
Photo 30 by: Kyle Kittelberger

Comment: Lee, 2013-06-12, Lilypad lake near intersection of Cedar Lane Rd and US 1 - I believe this is a first record for Lee County; very abundant, probably many more at the lake. Male photographed in this image