Monday, July 24, 2006

Jewelry on Wings

On a bright summer day, along any of the many shaded streams and rivers east of the Rockies, you might encounter a true jewel of the natural world. It usually starts with a glimpse of a shimmering, irridescent green and black shape out of the corner of your eye. Then, being relatively tame, one may perch nearby. I'm talking about a beautiful damselfly called the Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata).


I think a more appropriate name would be Jeweled Ebonywing since the most prominent feature is the male's jet black wings. The body of the male shines a brilliant emerald with a hint of turquoise when the light hits it right. The females are similar to the males, except their wings are usually a smoky brown color and have bright white stigmas. The female's body tends to have a bronzy sheen to it.


Ebony Jewelwings fly similar to a butterfly and could easily be mistaken for one. They flit around and perch on twigs and leaves. They may be seen darting out from a perch and returning to that same spot. When exhibiting this behavior, they are usually feeding on various tiny insects such as gnats and aphids. Ebony Jewelwings fly from May through August. Mating usually occurs in the summer. These pictures were taken by Beth and me yesterday at Willowwood Arboretum.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am so glad to be able to identify what I saw and photographed visiting our water feature here in rural central Arkansas. Late yesterday afternoon I saw this exquisite Ebony Jewelwing damselfly and was totally fascinated by it's beauty. I have never seen anything like it around our farm. We have lots of dragonflies but nothing that compares with this. He was visiting our garden about 5PM showing off his true beauty. Glad you had him on your site. Jane Little Rock, AR