Ebony Jewelwing

From Ohio History Central

Ebony jewelwings (Calopteryx maculata) are one of the most common and widespread of the damselflies. They can be identified in the air by their skipping flight pattern, their iridescent bodies, and their black wings.

Males are large and have a black head with shades of metallic blue or green, green bodies, and, as its name suggests, black wings. Females are very similar to the males but their wings are more of a pale brown. Adults average 1.8 to 2.2 inches long. Their typical diet includes insects, especially gnats.

Typical habitat for ebony jewelwings includes small, shaded forest streams and, less commonly, rivers. They sit horizontally on leaves and twigs near the shore. They can stay for hours, and sometimes days, on the same feeding perch. Scientists believe that they cannot see one another if sitting still, so they signal each other by opening their wings and slapping them shut. They most often do this during the first thirty seconds after landing. If predators like large dragonflies are nearby, their ability to sit still is a good defense.

Ebony jewelwings can be found throughout Ohio.

See Also