Calopteryx maculata

Common Name:
Ebony Jewelwing
C. maculata
Species Description
Calopteryx maculata (Beauvois, 1805), the Ebony Jewelwing, is a species of broad-winged damselflies. It is one out of the 170 species of the Odonata found in New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, and southeastern Canada. The scientific, practically describes the species -- calo-pteryx in classical Greek meaning "beautiful-wing," and maculata referring to the white spots. 

It is a large iridescent damselfly with black wings, commonly seem flitting around small streams. It is between 39-57 mm. The males have metallic blue-green bodies and black wings. Females are similar, having duller brown bodies and smoky wings and glistening white spots near tip wings. In some cases the wings have a dark tipped appearance, making them appear similar to River Jewelwing.  These can be distinguished by the rounded trailing edge to the wing. As the sunlight hits this damselfly's body, the color is a beautiful metallic green. As the angle of the light changes the color may seem to shift to a teal blue. As the angle of light changes still further, and as the quantity of light decreases, the Ebony Jewelwing's body may seem to be black.

It lives near wooded streams and rivers. Ebony Jewelwings flutter like a butterfly. When disturbed they fly a short distance to safety. These damselflies are easy to get close to as long as you approach slowly and don't make any sudden movements. They will often stop to rest on leaves or twigs. Ebony Jewelwings may fly far from water. They can be seen in the middle of the woods, while most damselflies and dragonflies are usually seen near ponds, lakes, or rivers.

It is easy to tell this species from others. This is the only damselfly in West Virginia, or anywhere near West Virginia, that has all-black wings. Differentiating males from females is also easy with this species. The females have a small white pterostigma on each wing, while the males do not.

Ebony Jewelwing is among the more common damselflies. It is found throughout most of the United States and southern Canada.


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