Nebraska Dragonflies and Damselflies

Ebony Jewelwing

Calopteryx maculata

Beauvois, 1805

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The Ebony Jewelwing is a widespread, common and yet spectacular damselfly. The male is a metallic green with blue reflections and all-black wings. Flight is generally slow and fluttery, similar to a butterfly. Both sexes open their wings, then snap them closed. The female is a dark green, not as showy as the male. Its wide, nearly uniformly smoky wings have white stigmas. It is similar to the female River Jewelwing, but the body is darker and the wings are proportionally wider. Unlike River Jewelwings, female Ebony Jewelwings do not become submerged while ovipositing.

This is an eastern species near its western and northern limits in Nebraska (there are two county records from Colorado and a number from the Black Hills). It is present in a large variety of small streams from sandy to mud and open to heavily-shaded, but absent from larger streams and rivers. This conspicuous flashy species is often abundant and sometimes the most common species in a stream. It is rare or absent in many Sandhills counties, some because of the absence of streams, and less common in western counties. Its absence or rarity in a few eastern counties is unexplained. It is one of the first species to fly in the early morning, when it can be found sitting on bank vegetation in full sun. It is also active later in the day and in poorer weather than most damselflies.

Ebony Jewelwing
Ebony Jewelwing pair in "wheel"
Ebony Jewelwing map

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

Size: 39-57mm (1.5-2.2 in)

Habitat: small shady streams, often in forests

Great Plains Range: TX, OK, KS, NE, SD, CO, MO, IA, MN

Flight season: late May to mid September

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