Sunday, January 7, 2018

Smoky Rubyspot Damselfly Habitats: Dark Body, Red-Spotted Dusky Wings

Summary: North American smoky rubyspot damselfly habitats from Canada south all the way through Costa Rica revel in dark bodies and red-spotted dusky wings.

smoky rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina titia); Aug. 31, 2015: Melissa McMasters (cricketsblog), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

North American smoky rubyspot damselfly habitats address arboriculture, master gardening and master naturalism with moist, shady distribution ranges from Ontario and the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Southwest United States south through Costa Rica.
Smoky rubyspots bear their common name because of the male's basally red-spotted, dusky wings and the scientific name Hetaerina titia, as a little companion [in] red-brown. Common names confirm the consensus of scientific committees convened by the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, originally called Dragonfly Society of America upon creation in 1988. Descriptions in 1773 by Dru Drury (Feb. 4, 1724-Dec. 15, 1803), British collector of 11,000-plus specimens, entomologist and retired silversmith in London, England, decide scientific designations.
Smoky rubyspot damselfly lifespans expect big- to small-sized, canopy-covered, fast- to slow-flowing, shaded woodland rivers and streams with aquatic vegetation and with waterside shrubs and trees.

January through December function as maximum, most southerly flight seasons even though August through September furnish wildlife mapping opportunities throughout all North American smoky rubyspot niches.
Adult male smoky rubyspot damselflies gather in greater or sparser numbers atop shaded perches on branches higher up in the thick canopies of water-tolerant waterside trees. They have fly-catching zones up to 20 or 30 feet (6.09 to 9.14 meters) from branches overhanging clear, shaded, vegetated stretches away from open, rocky riffles. They interact by initiating down- and up-stream, 30-second flight circles 3 to 5 feet (0.91 to 1.52 meters) in diameter and wing-flicked displays of red iridescence.
Ants, biting midges, ducks, falcons, fish, flycatchers, frogs, lizards, robber flies, spiders, turtles and water beetles, bugs and mites jeopardize North American smoky rubyspot damselfly habitats.

Immature smoky rubyspots keep to dull, faded, light, pale colors before life cycle progressions from egg-hatched, multi-molting larvae, naiads or nymphs into molted tenerals (soft-bodied adults).
Immature females leave pools, rivers and streams to live adult stages as mature smoky rubyspot damselflies looking for mates and for oviposition sites for egg masses. Adult females manifest acceptance of mates by wing-flipping and rejection by wing-spreading and move after mating to two-hour ovipositing (egg-laying) sessions while mates maintain guard duty. Rubyspot members of the Calopterygidae broad-winged damselfly family need aphids, beetles, borers, caddisflies, copepods, crane flies, dobsonflies, gnats, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, rotifers, scuds, water fleas and worms.
North American smoky rubyspot damselfly habitats offer season-coldest temperatures, northward to southward, from minus 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28.88 to minus 3.88 degrees Celsius).

Beech, cashew, dogwood, hazel, heath, holly, honeysuckle, lily, madder, magnolia, maple, pea, pine, rose, walnut, willow, wintergreen and witch-hazel family members promote smoky rubyspot life cycles.
Brown thoraxes with or without green stripes, brown-tan eyes, dark abdomens and dusky wings with or without dark and white-spotted tips qualify as adult female hallmarks. Adult males reveal brown-black eyes, dark abdomens, dark thoraxes with or without alternating green and tan bands and dark wings with black tips and red bases. Adults show off 1.46- to 2.09-inch (37- to 53-millimeter) head-body lengths, 1.18- to 1.69-inch (30- to 43-millimeter) abdomens and 0.98- to 1.22-inch (25- to 31-millimeter) hindwings.
All-black, broad wings and blue-green iridescent bodies respectively trumpet otherwise similar-looking, similar-sized ebony and sparkling jewelwing damselfly presences in overlapping North American smoky rubyspot damselfly habitats.

smoky rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina titia) at Arroyo Colorado in Harlingen, Cameron County, Rio Grande Valley, southernmost Texas; Nov. 14, 2010: Bob Danley (Striking), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
smoky rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina titia); Aug. 31, 2015: Melissa McMasters (cricketsblog), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @
smoky rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina titia) at Arroyo Colorado in Harlingen, Cameron County, Rio Grande Valley, southernmost Texas; Nov. 14, 2010: Bob Danley (Striking), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr @

For further information:
Abbott, John C. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Princeton NJ; Oxford UK: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Banta, Nathaniel Moore, ed. Nature Neighbors, Embracing Birds, Plants, Animals, Minerals. Vol. V: Animals. Chicago IL: American Audubon Association, 1914.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Beaton, Giff. Dragonflies & Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. Athens GA; London UK: University of Georgia Press, 2007.
Berger, Cynthia. Dragonflies. Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole Books: Wild Guide, 2004.
Bright, Ethan. "Hetaerina titia (Drury, 1773: 83 as Libellula) -- Smoky Rubyspot." Aquatic Insects of Michigan > Odonata (Dragon- and Damselflies) of Michigan > Zygoptera Selys, 1854 > Calopterygidae, Selys, 1850 (Broadwinged Damselflies) > Hetaerina Hagen, in Selys 1853 (Rubyspots).
Available @
Drury, D. (Dru). "Fig. V [titia]." Illustrations of Natural History. Wherein Are Exhibited Upwards of Two Hundred and Twenty Figures of Exotic Insects, According to Their Different Genera; Very Few of Which Have Hitherto Been Figured by Any Authors, Being Engraved and Coloured from Nature. Vol. II: Plate XLV, page 83. London UK: B. White, 1773.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
"Hetaerina titia." James Cook University-Medusa: The Odonata - Dragonflies and Damselflies > Zygoptera > Calopterygidae > Hetaerina.
Available via James Cook University-Medusa @
Paulson, Dennis. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, Princeton Field Guides, 2011.

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