Calopteryx amata

Superb Jewelwing

Calopteryx amata, Superb Jewelwing male

Family: Calopterygidae

Length: 49-61 mm


This beautiful species adorns the beautiful rivers of the Mountain State. Thus far, Superb Jewelwing has been reported from five mountainous counties in eastern West Virginia. Indeed, the overall range map for this species seems to follow the Appalachians, from as far south as Georgia to as far north as Nova Scotia.


Calopteryx amata, Superb Jewelwing, male face

Of all members of the Broad-winged Damselfly family, this species has the narrowest wings. It also has the largest body.

As with the other members of the genus Calopteryx, the head, thorax, and abdomen of this species are brilliant metallic green. The females body color may appear more bronzy, and the females abdomen is thicker.

Males and females may also be differentiated by wing coloration. On the males, the wings are clear, with the tips of the hindwings brown. On females the wings are uniform: all amber in color, or occasionally all clear. On females, there is a small white pseudostigma on each wing.

Superb Jewelwings perch on alders and other riverside plants. They dart out to capture prey, then return to their perch.

Superb Jewelwing, Calopteryx amata male, fanned wings
Only when the male Superb Jewelwing fans his wings is it apparent that only two of the four wings have dark tips.


Female Superb Jeweling wing image, Calopteryx amata
The female Superb Jewelwing has uniform wings, tinted amber (as shown here) or occasionally clear. Note the white pseudostigmas, not present on the male.


Lateral view of the females thorax. The small green triangle (at the lower right of the thorax in this photo) is a key identification characteristic of the female Superb Jewelwing.


Superb Jewelwing, Calopteryx amata, ovispositing
At the lower right corner of this photo the female Superb Jewelwing lays her eggs, while at upper right the male stands guard, to keep other males away until the eggs he has fertilized are safely laid.

Insects of West Virginia