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Smoky Rubyspot

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Hetaerina titia

Drury, 1773

Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Superfamily Calopterygoidea
Family Calopterygidae
Genus Hetaerina
Species titia (Drury, 1773) [Libellula]


This is a large damselfly widely dispersed east of Kansan and Chihuahuan biotic provinces. The clypeus, labrum, anterior portion of the frons and basal antennal segment in the male are light tan giving way to darker brown or black on the head. The dorsum of the pterothorax ranges from deep iridescent red to black with broad bronzy-green regions laterally. The wings are variable, but with the basal fourth of both wings red and often diffused with brown. Red veins may be present in this area and the tips of both wings are usually brown. The remainder of the wings may be clear to smoky dark brown or entirely black, but usually with the hind wing much more extensively marked. The female is similar to the male, but the head is lighter in front and variably iridescent green dorsally. The pterothorax is iridescent green and the abdomen is iridescent green to brown. The wings are amber to brown. The dorsal carina of abdominal segment 10 usually ends in a prominent spine projecting well beyond the apical margin. Both sexes have a white pterostigma that darkens with age and surmounts 1-3 or more cells.


Total length: 39-53 mm; abdomen: 30-43 mm; hindwing: 25-31 mm.

Similar Species

The body of Sparkling Jewelwing (Calopteryx dimidiata) is iridescent blue-green. American (H. americana) and Canyon Rubyspots (H. vulnerata) have bright red basal spots in both wings and are never darkenend beyone the basal B< of the wing. The range of Canyon Rubyspot does not overlap with with Smoky Rubyspot. The abdomen is uniformly dark brown with green reflections, not distinctly irridescent green dorsally and tan laterally as in American Rubyspot.


Small to medium-sized streams and rivers with strong current.


The variability of this species has lead to confusion and the recognition of several races and forms. Johnson (1963 ) studied sympatric populations of American and Smoky Rubyspots on the Guadalupe River in Gruen and Comfort, Texas, and at the Llano River in Junction, Texas. A third population of Smoky Rubyspot was observed at Chinquapin Creek east of Lufkin, Texas. After observing differences in breeding and territorial behavior, Johnson found that the female body color patterns were consistent and that the females bred with their specific male type. He considered these forms to be possible valid species. He also found the flight seasons of the two forms to be different. Florida collections (FSCA ) revealed occasional intergrades between the two female color patterns of the thorax and showed no apparent difference in flight season leading Johnson and Westfall (1970) to place these forms in a species complex. I follow Garrison (1990) who considers them forms of one species, based on the lack of detectable morphological differences between sexes of either form. The differences in degree of wing color in this species may be correlated with seasonality. Spring populations tend to have the dark markings in their wings restricted to the basal 1/4 of the wing, while mid-summer pouplations show a considerasble increase in the degree of brown in the wings and fall generations have completely dark wings. Like American Rubyspot, both sexes of Smoky Rubyspot perch horizontally on vegetation along the shore. They tend to prefer perches higher up and are more wary than the former. Females will invite mating by hovering and reject males with a display similar to that seen in Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata), involving a simultaneous spreading of the wings and bending of the abdomen upward. Guarded above by males, females will spend up to two hours ovipositing underwater in wet wood.


Southeastern United States north to Maryland; west to Wisconsin and Texas and New Mexico; extending southward through Mexico to Costa Rica.