Minnesota Dragonfly

Forcipate Emerald

Somatochlora forcipata

The Forcipate Emerald is a medium sized Somatochlora, striped Emerald, with two equal sized, pale yellow, oval dots on the thorax and small side spots on a dark abdomen. It gets its common name from the forceps shaped claspers of the males


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 1.7 to 2.0 inches
  • Dark, black and metallic green face with yellow on the sides
  • Bright emerald eyes
  • Thorax is brown and metallic green with two, nearly equal sized, pale yellow to white, oval spots
  • Pale ring separating abdominal segments 2 and 3
  • Dark abdomen that narrows at segments 3 and 4 then widens at segment 5, no specific markings on top
  • Small yellow side spots at the base of segments 5 to 8
  • Claspers are forceps shaped, angling out and then back in at the tip. Tips are widely separated
  • Cerci slope downward and come to a point

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Female is colored similarly to the male
  • Yellow side spot on abdominal segments 3 to 7
  • Scoop shaped ovipositor that is about as long as segment 9 and hangs parallel to the abdomen
  • Terminal appendages longer than segments 9 and 10 combined

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Males patrol by flying up and down along the stream right above the water to a few feet above. Foraging typically takes place 6 to 10 feet above roads, trail or other openings. When not in flight Forcipate Emeralds will often perch high in the trees. This is a rare species in Minnesota and Wisconsin


Small, slow spring-fed boggy streams


Females lay eggs in open water or moss beds by tapping abdomen on water at irregular intervals

Range Maps
  • Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

    Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

    Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.