This family of damsels have broad, colored wings and their bodies can appear metallic with brilliant colors. Their larger size, colored wings, and metallic colors can help distinguish this family from the other two families of damsels. In Arkansas there are three confirmed species: Ebony Jewelwing, American Rubyspot, and Smoky Rubyspot. However, the Sparkling Jewelwing can be found very close to AR’s southern border.
Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)
Description: Large damsel with metallic blue-green body in males while females are duller. Both sexes have dark, black wings. Wings are broadest of damsels in AR. Female has “jewel” on wing. Females also have bulbous abdominal ends.
Habitat: Wooded streams. I seem to find these more in sandy-bottomed streams, Although I’ve seen them in rocky and muddy streams as well.
Range: Recorded commonly from almost every eco-region in AR, save for the Delta. Several counties are missing from that region. However, there are records lining the Mississippi River. Absence in the mid-eastern counties may be due to a lack of observers.
Similar Species: Smoky Rubyspot is the most similar to the Ebony Jewelwing. However, wings aren’t completely dark in males, and both sexes of that species have much narrower wings.
Observational/Behavioral Notes: Individuals will perch at eye-level or lower on leaves near water. I generally see these on the leaves of sturdy, woody plants (i.e., the leaves of sweetspire [Itea virginica] along the braided stream at Lorance Creek Natural Area, Pulaski Co., AR). Males defend sections and will slowly open then close their wings in display.
American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)
Description: This species themes itself around red. Males have a red, metallic-colored body with red-based wings. Females have a gold and black body (sometimes showing green) with a little less red than males. Females have gold veins near the base of the wing.
Habitat: I’ve only found these around wooded, rocky streams. I’ve seen these at Cedar Creek in Petit Jean State Park and Lake Conway Dam/Palarm Creek (Faulkner Co., AR).
Range: These are found in the Ouachitas, Ozarks, AR River Valley, and Crowley’s Ridge. Only a few northern Delta counties have recorded this species. Likewise, the Gulf Coastal Plain does not have many counties reported.
Similar Species: Smoky Rubyspot males can be somewhat red in the wings but have dark wing tips. Female Smokies without much coloration in the wings.
Observational/Behavioral Notes: I usually find these perched on rocks jutting out of streams. I’ve seen tandem pairs ovipositing in clumps of vegetation clinging to these rocks. Occasionally I’ll see some perching among streamside vegetation, mostly grasses, which may contain prey. The highest concentration of this species I have observed is along Cedar Creek at Petit Jean State Park, Conway Co., AR. Every year, I try to walk the Cedar Creek Trail where I find these among the rocks of the creek, mostly in the sun.
Smoky Rubyspot (Hetaerina titia)
Description: Duller than our other two broad-winged damsels. Males will have dark wing bases and dark wing tips. Sometimes the wing colors in males can be red but is mostly dark. Between wing base and wing tip, the males wings are clear-ish. Females have dusky wings. Wings are narrow.
Habitat: Sandy or rocky streams with surrounding forests. Apparently, more so than other broad-winged damsels, this species doesn’t mind slower, almost still waters. I’ve only observed this species at a semi-open, sandy/rocky stream with surrounding hardwood forest at Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge (Sevier Co., AR).
Range: This seems to be a more reclusive, locally common species. Its only been recorded in 14 AR counties. Most of these records are in the northeast part of the state (eastern Ozarks, Crowley’s Ridge, and northern Delta). There are two isolated records in the Gulf Coastal Plain (Sevier and Cleveland), one in the AR River Valley (Conway) and one in the southern Ouachitas (Montgomery).
Similar Species: See notes on Ebony Jewelwing and American Rubyspot.
Notes: As far as I can tell, this species is not incredibly common. My only pics are quite poor and were taken as document shots. I will upload better ones as I get them, but for now, I recommend trying out some of the other sites mentioned in the parent page. My only observation of this species is at Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Sevier Co., AR. Here, I found two females perched at eye level and below in herbaceous, riverside vegetation. I’ve read reports that say this species tends to perch higher up than other broad-winged species.