Calopteryx dimidiata

Geographic Range

Calopteryx dimidiata, the sparkling jewelwing damselfly, is found along the eastern coastal plains of the United States, extending westward towards eastern Texas. It has been reported in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. (Johnson, 1973; Paulson, 2011)


Calopteryx dimidiata is found along forest streams and rivers with moderate to swift currents. It is associated with acidic waters, and specifically tannin-rich waters. Its habitat tends to have a sandy substrate and plentiful aquatic vegetation. The larvae live in the water, and adults of both sexes are usually found on snags in streams, although they may also be found in more open areas. Adults tend to stay near the streams from which they emerged. (Johnson, 1973; Paulson, 2011; Smock, 1988; Westfall, Jr. and May, 1996)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams

Physical Description

As with all members of the order Odonata, Calopteryx dimidiata has a body consisting of a head, thorax, and abdomen. On its head is a pair of compound eyes, three ocelli, and a pair of antennae. The thorax bears three pairs of legs covered in setae and two pairs of wings, to which large flight muscles are attached. The abdomen is cylindrical, narrow, and composed of ten segments. In males, sperm production takes place on the ninth abdominal segment while the penis is on the second and third abdominal segments. The genital opening of females is found between the eighth and ninth abdominal segments.

Calopteryx dimidiata is colorful and has broad wings. Its total body length ranges between 37 and 50 mm. These damselflies have forewings and hindwings of the same lengths, between 23 and 31 mm. Males have dark brown eyes and metallic green bodies. The ventral side of the male abdomen is black. Males have black, apical bands ending in straight edges on the tips of all wings. The apical bands are smaller in populations farther north. Females have coloration similar to males but may be metallic bronze-green. When immature, their bodies are duller in color and their eyes appear redder. They have hyaline wings that may lack the apical bands (heteromorphs), have bands present as they are in males (andromorphs), or have bands only on the hindwings. Heteromorph frequencies follow a geographic cline and decrease with latitude.

Larvae have wide heads with eyes placed laterally, and ocelli are not yet present. The antennae are much more prominent in larvae than in adults. The abdomen is cylindrical and tapers at the posterior end. Extending from the final abdominal segment are three caudal gills that allow the larva to breathe under water. The labium is modified to shoot forward on a hinge and skewer prey. Wing pads can be seen growing from the thorax and usually extend halfway over the abdomen by the time the larvae are final instars. (Johnson, 1973; Paulson, 2011; Westfall, Jr. and May, 1996)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range length
    37 to 50 mm
    1.46 to 1.97 in


Calopteryx dimidiata is a univoltine species. There is very little information in the literature on the embryonic and larval development of C. dimidiata, but it is known that all members of the family Calopterygidae have aquatic larval stages (also known as nymphs or naiads). In general, calopterygid damselflies spend two-to-four weeks in embryonic development and then hatch from long, spindle-shaped eggs. The larvae feed and undergo multiple molts until they metamorphose into their adult forms. Calopteryx dimidiata is known to overwinter as a larval instar as opposed to remaining within diapausing eggs, and larvae that emerge in the spring have longer growing periods and tend to be bigger as adults than those that emerge in the summer or fall. Newly molted adults are tenerals, with a soft exoskeleton and pale in color. This stage lasts for about two weeks, after which individuals become sexually mature. Adult sex ratios of C. dimidiata are approximately 50% male and 50% female. The flight season of adult C. dimidiata varies greatly depending on geographic location. In New Jersey it lasts from May to September, in Kentucky it lasts from June to August, in Louisiana it lasts from March to September, in Georgia it lasts from April to October, and in Florida it lasts from February to November. (Corbert, 1999; Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005; Johnson, 1973; Paulson, 2011; Smock, 1988; Westfall, Jr. and May, 1996)


In order to mate, a male will perform courtship displays to females perched inside his territory. After a female signals receptivity, the male grasps the female behind the head with the end of his abdomen. Prior to copulation the male must transfer his sperm to his penis. The female then bends her abdomen forward to make contact with the male's penis, forming a “copulation wheel.” Copulation lasts for two minutes on average. Sperm displacement by males during copulation takes place in two steps. In the first step, the male uses his spine-covered penis to mechanically remove any stored sperm from previous matings. Calopteryx dimidiata males are able to remove up to 98% of stored sperm from the female's sperm storage organs (bursa copulatrix and spermatheca). The second step involves the actual deposition of sperm. Females of C. dimidiata may mate with multiple males prior to laying a clutch of eggs. Males of congeneric damselflies have been reported to mate with multiple females, although the males are unable to differentiate between females with which they have and have not previously paired. (Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005; Córdoba-Aguilar, et al., 2003; Paulson, 2011; Tsubaki, et al., 2006)

After copulation is complete, males then accompany the females to an oviposition site and give a postcopulatory cross display while floating on the surface of the water. Females generally oviposit within the male's territory. Calopteryx dimidiata females oviposit while completely submerged in the water. The female walks into the water along submerged leaves until she is completely underwater and then lays her eggs into the leaves. Clutches usually consist of several hundred eggs. The female can remain submerged for about 15 to 20 minutes. This is due to a thin sheet of air that is trapped against the body of the damselfly, acting as a physical gill. Oxygen from the water diffuses into this bubble, allowing the female to stay under water long enough to oviposit her clutch of eggs. After rising to the surface she remains near the water and is unreceptive to males. Meanwhile, the male remains on guard at the surface of the water to defend his mate from being harassed by other males while the she lays her eggs. (Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005; Córdoba-Aguilar, et al., 2003; Paulson, 2011; Tsubaki, et al., 2006)

  • Breeding interval
    Calopteryx dimidiata mates multiple times throughout its life.
  • Breeding season
    Mating takes place from February to November, depending on region.
  • Average eggs per season
    several hundred

Calopteryx dimidiata provides provisioning in its eggs, and lays the eggs in a suitable aquatic environment. Otherwise, there is no further parental care. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female


While there is no information in the literature on the full lifespan of C. dimidiata, the lifespan for adults of other species of the family Calopterygidae is about one month. (Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 months


Calopteryx dimidiata is diurnal and remains active until dusk. Generally, damselflies find shelter in dense vegetation at night. They rest with their abdomens parallel to the stems of the plants they perch on. In Calopteryx damselflies, young males tend to spend more time foraging for prey from streams, where it is lighter and there is more prey available. Mature males are territorial and will engage in aggressive behavior toward other males to defend their territory. They almost never leave the stream. As the reproductive season progresses and more males mature, competition between males increases. Disputes can result in an intruding male leaving a territory or an intruding male chasing away and evicting the resident male. Males of C. dimidiata defend small territories that are chosen based on oviposition sites for females. When males fight for territories, they fly in spirals around each other over the water and may give chase for up to 40 feet along the stream, frequently making physical contact with one another. (Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005; Kirkton and Schultz, 2001; Paulson, 2011)

Home Range

Since males are territorial, they remain in the same general area, as they guard their territory and rarely leave their section of stream. Females tend to have a much larger range than males, though both sexes tend to remain near the body of water from which they emerged. (Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005; Kirkton and Schultz, 2001; Paulson, 2011)

Communication and Perception

Unlike many other insect groups, damselflies do not use their antennae as olfactory organs. They instead primarily rely on vision to identify prey, potential mates, territory rivals, and predators. Calopteryx dimidiata is able to visually identify suitable oviposition sites though the water, possibly based on the color of submerged plants. Their compound eyes are spaced far apart from each other, enhancing their close-range depth perception. Structures called ocelli allow them to detect differences in light intensity.

Males of C. dimidiata communicate with potential mates by performing courtship displays for females perched within their territories. They float on the surface on the water with their abdomens curled above the water and their wings partly spread. The current carries them downstream, so they repeatedly fly back up stream to perform this display until the female leaves or is receptive. Females signal receptivity by flipping their wings. Female damselflies appear to choose mates based on wing pigmentation, as it might be an indicator of immune system health. (Corbert, 1999; Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005; Paulson, 2011)

Food Habits

All larval and adult damselflies are predatory, and feed primarily on insects. Teneral calopterygid damselflies generally feed on small prey such as midges (Chironomidae) and mosquitoes (Culicidae). (Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects


There is no specific information on predators of C. dimidata in the literature. However, predators of damselflies are generally larger species of Odonata, spiders, robber flies, birds, fish, frogs, and water beetles. (Paulson, 2011)

Ecosystem Roles

Both adults and larvae of Calopteryx dimidiata are predators of insects. They also serve as prey to many other organisms, including birds, fish, and other Odonata. Protozoan parasites called gregarines are known to infect many Calopteryx species, and Calopteryx dimidiata is likely a host to these parasites as well. (Córdoba-Aguilar and Cordero-Rivera, 2005; Paulson, 2011)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • gregarines, Apicomplexa

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive effects of Calopteryx dimidiata on humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Calopteryx dimidiata on humans.

There are no known negative effects of sparkling jewelwings on humans.

Conservation Status

Calopteryx dimidiata has no special conservation status.


Meaghan Ly (author), The College of New Jersey, Keith Pecor (editor), The College of New Jersey, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat

delayed fertilization

a substantial delay (longer than the minimum time required for sperm to travel to the egg) takes place between copulation and fertilization, used to describe female sperm storage.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


uses sight to communicate


Corbert, P. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Córdoba-Aguilar, A., A. Cordero-Rivera. 2005. Evolution and ecology of Calopterygidae (Zygoptera: Odonata): status of knowledge and research perspectives. Neotropical Entomology, 34: 861-879.

Córdoba-Aguilar, A., E. Uhía, A. Cordero-Rivera. 2003. Sperm competition in Odonata (Insecta): the evolution of female sperm storage and rival’s sperm displacement. The Journal of Zoology, 261: 381-398.

Johnson, C. 1973. Variability, distribution, and taxonomy of Calopteryx dimidiata. The Florida Entomologist, 56: 207-222.

Kirkton, S., T. Schultz. 2001. Age-specific behavior and habitat selection of adult male damselflies, Calopteryx maculata (Odonata: Calopterygidae). Journal of Insect Behavior, 14: 545-556.

Paulson, D. 2011. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Smock, L. 1988. Life histories, abundance and distribution of some macroinvertebrates from a South Carolina, USA coastal plain stream. Hydrobiologia, 157: 193-208.

Tsubaki, Y., C. Kato, S. Shintani. 2006. On the respiratory mechanism during underwater oviposition in a damselfly Calopteryx cornelia Selys. Journal of Insect Physiology, 52: 499-505.

Waage, J. 1988. Reproductive behavior of the damselfly Calopteryx dimidiata (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica, 17: 365-378.

Westfall, Jr., M., M. May. 1996. Damselflies of North America. Gainesville, FL: Scientific Publishers, Inc..