Male American Rubyspot

American Rubyspots (Hetaerina americana)

Male American Rubyspot
Male American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana), Longmont, Colorado, USA. September 1, 2012.

Broad-winged damselflies in the family Calopterygidae are sometimes known by the common name ‘jewelwings,’ and the family name itself means ‘beautiful wing’. There are only two species of broad-winged damselflies in Colorado, and I had never seen either before, so I was very excited when local odonate enthusiast and macrophotographer John Barr offered to take me to a prime location for American Rubyspots (Hetaerina americana) earlier this month.

Rubyspots are larger than many dragonflies, and between their size and the bright red spot on the wings of males, they were easy to spot even from a distance, flitting around in the grass by the creek edge. But for the best photography opportunities, we had to wade around in the creek itself:

Photographing American Rubyspots. Photo courtesy of John Barr.

As with many species of odonates, the males tended to be more skittish and readily startled, and they were also quite territorial, frequently scuffling with each other over prime perches. But with some patience and luck, a few held still long enough for photographs. I think these are the most beautiful odonates I’ve seen so far:

American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)

A few of the males were somewhat pruinose, with darker, less iridescent bodies:

American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)

While the females were a little less showy, I found their coppery green coloration and orange wingspots to be quite striking, especially for female damselfies:

American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)

American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)

After a fabulous morning with the rubyspots, we checked out a few other odonate locations before lunch, but that’s a post for another day.


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