Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ebony Jewelwing

The increased flow in the creek has resulted in an abundance of stream dependent creatures. This is a male Ebony Jewelwing damselfly, sometimes called the Black Winged Damsel. A male will watch over a section of stream that he defends as his territory. Females lay their eggs in the stream and are attracted to the best quality riffles, so males compete fiercely for control of these areas.

Female Ebony Jewelwings have lighter colored wings and less intense body coloration. There are also white spots near the tips of the wings. Since the males are so aggressive toward other males of the same species, there probably needs to be a noticeable difference between the sexes to help facilitate successful pairings.

These common damselflies are never far from streams and are most often encountered flying over the water or perched on vegetation near the stream bank. This male, shown bottom right, has attracted a female, middle left, into his territory. After mating, the male will guard the female from the advances of other males as she lays her eggs.

The male uses a special wing display to attract females. The wings are slowly spread apart and then abruptly closed.

An interested female will respond with a like signal. This particular courtship was interrupted when the male flew off to chase away another male. While the two were chasing each other around, the female took off and headed downstream.


  1. Superb post today accompanied by great pictures. The way they flit around, I'm sure it took great patience! What a beautiful damselfly. Can't say as I've ever seen one. ~karen

  2. That's a stunning photo of the male, particularly. Supposedly this species is found in central Texas (much more in East Texas) but I haven't seen one even when our creek had flowing water for several months. The only jewelwing I've seen here was an American Rubyspot.

  3. Karen - It's a shame you've never seen one of these. They're a lot of fun to watch. I'm not sure how far north they get into Canada.

    Elizabeth - I've never see an American Rubyspot around here. My creek usually goes dry in the summer, but even then there are Ebony Jewelwings around.

  4. These are beauties, Steve! They're actually the last "new" species I spotted on my last walk in the woods at home before I headed up north. We saw both males and females, perching on vegetation lining the forest trail, maybe 20m away from a stream. I didn't notice any courtship displays, so I've asked my wife to go have another look and report back! :-)