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 2024-00-00 = 5

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Furtive Forktail (Ischnura prognata) by Mark Shields
Compare with: Rambur's Forktail   Eastern Forktail  
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 Furtive Forktail
Flight Charts
Distribution Scattered over most of the Coastal Plain and the eastern half of the Piedmont. Nonetheless, it has been recorded from slightly fewer than half of the counties within this eastern NC range. A 2019 photograph from Buncombe County, in the mountains, was a remarkable record and a first for that province; another record in 2021 came from nearby Madison County. Thus, it could well range throughout the Piedmont, but in the mountains clearly is found only at very low elevations, so far only in the French Broad River valleys.
Abundance Rare to uncommon in the lower half of the Coastal Plain (inward to about Bertie and Bladen counties), and certainly rare in the upper Coastal Plain and into the eastern half of the Piedmont. Extremely rare farther westward, with just the single 2019 and 2021 mountain records and 2022 records for Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties. It is certainly overlooked in its shady habitat. The peak count of just 12 individuals is indicative of its relative scarcity, as is its spotty range in the state.
Flight The flight patterns are oddly "bimodal", seemingly one that aestivates in the warmer months. Most of the combined Coastal Plain and Piedmont records fall between late March and mid-June, and again between mid-October and late December.
Habitat Streams, swamp edges, and other pools under heavy shade, essentially always under a forest canopy.

See also Habitat Account for General Wet-Hydric Forests
Behavior Quite shy, this species comes by its common name honestly. Individuals perch low, often hidden in vegetation, especially in shady places.
Comments This species' odd habitat selection -- shaded waters in forests -- makes it somewhat more difficult to survey for, and observe/photograph -- than other damselflies. This behavior is at least partly responsible for its spotty range in the state. Mark Shields has provided several recent (2016-21) photos from the southeastern corner of the state, and several others added photos from the northern Coastal Plain in 2018. Jason Love and others captured and photographed one in the mountains in 2019, for a most surprising record and a major range extension. Interestingly and oddly, our first record from fairly well-worked Brunswick County did not come until 2020, with a photo posted on the iNaturalist website.
State Rank S3S4
State Status
Global Rank G4
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-18 17:28:12

Photo Gallery for Furtive Forktail   30 photos are shown. Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Kevin Metcalf

Comment: Anson, 2024-04-13, - 1 male, Pee Dee wildlife refuge
Photo 2 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2024-04-13, Slades Swamp: mixed hardwoods 2 miles SW of Clarkton - Woods, in Lizard's Tail along stream
Photo 3 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2022-08-08, Wooded edges ofswampy early successional cutover just southeast of Clarkton. 34.4604, -78.638358, iNaturalist #130313844 - Male.
Photo 4 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2022-08-06, Wooded edges of swampy early successional cutover just southeast of Clarkton. 34.453871, -78.633842, iNaturalist #129758387 - Female
Photo 5 by: Harry LeGrand, Lori Arent

Comment: Moore; C, 2022-04-28, Drowning Creek at Thunder Road - females, ovipositing on a grass just above water; photo by Lori Arent
Photo 6 by: Roger Shaw

Comment: Carteret, 2022-04-17, Croatan NF - Millis Swamp at Millis Rd.
Photo 7 by: Kevin Metcalf

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2022-04-15, Photographed; Big Rock Nature Preserve, along stream in wooded area - Appears to be a first County Record
Photo 8 by: Travis McLain

Comment: Cabarrus, 2022-04-15, Rocky River near Stanfield; iNaturalist Record #112115508
Photo 9 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Scotland, 2022-04-10, Lumber River--Turnpike Rd to SP at Chalk Banks (by kayak)
Photo 10 by: Renee Clayton

Comment: Person, 2022-04-07, Helena-Moriah Rd. iNaturalist record #110999638
Photo 11 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2021-09-24, Jordan Lake--Bush Creek Marsh
Photo 12 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2021-08-19, The Glades - Female, in a shady native upland meadow near the house, not particularly close to suitable habitat. Appears to be a Chatham Co. record.
Photo 13 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2021-05-15, Davis Branch
Photo 14 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2021-04-16, my property, Holly Ridge - 3 males, 1 female
Photo 15 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Richmond; C, 2021-04-12, Sandhills GL Block A (Lake Bagget and nearby ponds and roads) - apparent county record, near wooded creek 1/2 mile upstream of Lake Bagget
Photo 16 by: Jim Brighton

Comment: Brunswick, 2020-10-31, Rice Creek, upstream from the boat ramp near Winnabow. iNaturalist record #64552677 - Female
Photo 17 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2020-04-21, my property, Holly Ridge - male
Photo 18 by: Jason Love, Sam McCoy, Palmer Dangerfield

Comment: Buncombe, 2019-05-24, Sandy Bottom Wetland Preserve - I.D. based on size (larger than most forktails) and only S9 blue (hard to tell from picture). Overall very long and slender thorax and abdomen, blue on S9, and frayed cerci. For reference, the width of my finger in the pic is 1/2-inch. Part of an effort to inventory butterflies and odonates at the Sandy Bottom Wetland Preserve in cooperation with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and UNC-Asheville. Also submitted to iNaturalist:
Photo 19 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Onslow, 2019-03-31, Stones Creek Game Land - 6 mature males, 3 immature females. Photo shows immature female.
Photo 20 by: Hunter Phillips

Comment: Onslow, 2018-12-17 - Derby Downs Drive, Sneads Ferry
Photo 21 by: John Petranka

Comment: Bertie, 2018-04-29, Charles Kuralt Trail, Roanoke River NWR along US 17 north of Williamston. - 10 males, 2 females.
Photo 22 by: John Petranka

Comment: Bertie, 2018-04-29, Charles Kuralt Trail, Roanoke River NWR along US 17 north of Williamston. - 10 males, 2 females.
Photo 23 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Columbus, 2018-04-21, Lake Waccamaw State Park, near boat ramp on Big Creek - Male photographed, another male and female sighted
Photo 24 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Camden, 2018-04-14, Dismal Swamp State Park (DISW) - female seen in swamp from boardwalk
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: New Hanover, 2017-11-25, Carolina Beach State Park (CABE), limesink ponds - 2 lone males, 1 pair in wheel
Photo 26 by: Mark Shields

Comment: New Hanover, 2017-11-18, Carolina Beach State Park (CABE), limesink ponds - male
Photo 27 by: Mark Shields

Comment: New Hanover, 2016-11-25, limesink ponds at Carolina Beach State Park - 1 single male and a pair in wheel
Photo 28 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2016-10-28, 1 female, Holly Shelter Game Land, greentree impoundment, southwest of Holly Shelter Boating Access
Photo 29 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2016-04-09, 1 male, McLean Savanna Preserve
Photo 30 by: E. Corey

Comment: Onslow, 2007-05-31, observed in shaded swamp, male