Ebony Jewelwing

Side view of ebony jewelwing resting on a plant stalk
Scientific Name
Calopteryx maculata
Calopterygidae (broad-winged damselflies) in order Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies)

The ebony jewelwing is a beautiful iridescent green damselfly with large black wings. It flutters around streams in wooded areas and never flies away very far. Young adults' wings are lighter and more transparent, while older individuals have more solid black wings. Males have all-black wings and brilliantly metallic blue-green bodies. Females are duller and more brownish; their smoky wings each have a white spot near the tip. Learn more about the ebony jewelwing and other damselflies (suborder Zygoptera) on their group page.

Similar species: The weak, fluttery flight at first seems like a butterfly's. Four other species of jewelwings (Calopteryx) occur in North America north of Mexico. This is the only one with completely dark, black wings.

You might have heard of Hine's emerald, which is federally endangered and occurs in Missouri; it, however, is a dragonfly (not a damselfly) and looks quite different.

Other Common Names
Jewelwing Damselfly

Like other damselflies, the ebony jewelwing preys on a wide assortment of invertebrates, both as an aquatic nymph and as a flying adult.

This and other damselflies prey upon both the aquatic larval and winged adult stages of mosquitoes, making them true friends to humanity. They also help control several other kinds of insects and thus serve an important role in the balance of nature.

Damselflies consume a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates, providing a check on their populations. In turn, they are consumed by a similar array of predators, both as aquatic nymphs and winged adults. As nymphs, they are eaten by fish, turtles, ducks, and larger aquatic invertebrates. As adults, they are captured by birds such as flycatchers, red-winged blackbirds, and swallows, and by bats, dragonflies, and more.

Media Gallery
Similar Species
About Land Invertebrates in Missouri
Invertebrates are animals without backbones, including earthworms, slugs, snails, and arthropods. Arthropods—invertebrates with “jointed legs” — are a group of invertebrates that includes crayfish, shrimp, millipedes, centipedes, mites, spiders, and insects. There may be as many as 10 million species of insects alive on earth today, and they probably constitute more than 90 percent all animal species.