Nebraska Dragonflies and Damselflies

River Jewelwing

Calopteryx aequabilis

Say, 1839

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The River Jewelwing male is metallic green with the outer 1/3 of the wings black. Sometimes found in the same areas as Ebony Jewelwing. Male courts female by hovering while swinging back and forth in a wide arc.

The female is a dark green with smoky wings. The outer 1/3 of the wings are darker and have white stigmas. It is similar to the female Ebony Jewelwing, but the body is not as dark and the wings are proportionally narrower. Females may remain under water for up to 1/2 hour while ovipositing.

This species is uncommon statewide, but common to abundant locally and inhabiting primarily northern counties in the western half of state. It seems to be split into (1) a population east of eastern Nebraska, South and North Dakota (a seemingly valid gap in distribution), (2) a population west of the Rocky Mountains, and (3) a population in western Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota that extends north into Canada.

Although it is recorded in all northern Iowa counties right up to the Nebraska border, a single individual in Antelope County is the farthest east it has been recorded in Nebraska. Clear, flowing, sand-bottomed streams are the normal habitat. Bloody Creek on the Loup/Rock county line, the upper reaches of the Middle Loup River (Cherry and Grant counties) and the upper reaches of the South Loup (Logan County) are all excellent areas for the species. These rivers are barely streams in their headwaters where this species is common. Ebony Jewelwing is frequently found in the same streams with River Jewelwing, but one or the other species will be far more common.

River Jewelwing
River Jewelwing. Photo courtesy of Terry Hibbitts.
River Jewelwing map

Green indicates accepted county record (specimen or photograph).
Yellow indicates sight record only.

Size: 43-54mm (1.7-2.1 in)

Habitat: small, clear, sand-bottomed streams

Great Plains Range: NE, SD, ND, CO, WY, MT, IA, MN

Flight season: mid June to mid August

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