RAINBOW BLUET, CITRINE FORKTAIL, and vesper bluet
Rainbow Bluets are one of the prettiest damselflies around. Unfortunately, they are fairly uncommon in our area. This is typically a more northern species, and we are near the southern limit of its range in the eastern U.S. (Their range extends further south in the western plains states.)
Citrine Forktail. This is one of our smallest damselflies. It is easy to overlook them due to their small size. In fact, Citrine Forktails are so tiny that I would probably never notice them at all, were it not for their bright colors.
This is a Citrine Forktail lurking in the grass. They live in wet prairies, and I have also seen them at the edges of shallow ponds. Citrine Forktails fly from April through October. In some years, this species is not hard to find, but 2020 was a particularly bad year for them. They were likely hurt by the extended dry weather in 2020 (many of their shallow, temporary pools dried up altogether).
This is a female Rainbow Bluet, photographed at Cox Arboretum. The population at Cox Arboretum must be fairly small and secretive, or I would have more sightings of this beautiful species.
Vesper Bluet. This is a gorgeous damselfly, with a unique combination of a neon yellow thorax and blue abdomen tip. This species flies late in the afternoon and evening, even well after dusk.
Spring Lakes Park in Bellbrook has a good population of Vesper Bluets. I had hunted odonates at that location for several years, but I never saw Vesper Bluets until the fall of 2017. It is likely that I was just missing them because I am usually not looking for odes late in the evening.
Vesper Bluet, floating contentedly on a leaf. This species likes to rest on lilypads, when lilypads are available. But there are no lilypads at Spring Lakes Park, so the Vespers make do with leaves and other vegetation.
I have seen a couple of these beauties at Cox Arboretum on three occasions: June 21, 2015, June 2, 2017, and June 18, 2018.
This is a female Citrine Forktail, found at Oakes Quarry. Oakes Quarry has a great population of Citrine Forktails. I spent a lot of time at Oakes Quarry in 2018, searching for Paiute Dancers (long story). In the process, I saw hundreds of Citrine Forktails. They like the same habitat as the Paiutes but the Citrine Forktails are much easier to find. Cox Arboretum and Grant Park also have good populations of Citrine Forktails, but not as good as Oakes Quarry.
I usually see Vesper Bluets in the fall months, but they also fly during the summer. I typically encounter them in autumn because it gets darker earlier in the evenings, and I don't need to stay out as late to find them. My latest sighting is October 22nd.