While ambling along the Credit River in Erindale Park in Mississauga, Ontario, in mid-September, I stopped to admire some dragonflies perched along the shoreline. The solid black wings of a male Ebony Jewelwing were the first I noticed. Then I saw a flash of brilliant red and watched as another type of damselfly perched on a stalk of dried plant out over the moving water. Its body shone metallic green and bronze in the sunshine and the red part of its wings gleamed like a jewel.
Looking it up at home confirmed that it was a male American Rubyspot damselfly. The “American” part refers to North America not just to the USA. According to a University of Texas website, this damsel flies almost everywhere from Canada through the US.
Was This a Male or Female American Rubyspot?
According to BugGuide.net, the males have a red thorax, and the females have either copper or green on the thorax. From what I can tell, and I am not an expert!, none of the Rubyspots that I have found so far is a female. That shouldn’t be surprising: all of these males were looking for a female too and weren’t having much luck!
An article on the UW-Milwaukee Field Station website says that the females have significantly less red on the wings and that this may give them an advantage when feeding. Females marked with more red did not gain weight as quickly as those left in their original colouring.
How Easy Is It to Find American Rubyspots in Erindale Park?
The second time I walked along the Credit after first identifying these colourful male damsels, I kept a look out for more. Somewhat to my surprise, at two other locations I found American Rubyspots perched on flat rocks in the river watching and waiting. They were quite exposed locations. If you look closely, you can even see a discarded fishing weight on one of the rocks.
Two other damselflies I admired were Ebony Jewelwings and some type of Spreadwing.
I’ll keep an eye out for more American Rubyspots as I continue my walks this fall. Unlike some damselflies, these ones fly right into the autumn season. Who knows, I may find a female yet!
UPDATE: Two weeks after I saw my first known Rubyspots, I finally found a female! It didn’t stay still long so I didn’t get a good photo in the heavily overcast afternoon. But I did see her and I have this photo as proof. I’ll keep trying for a better image of course.
Have you seen one of these colourful damsels waiting for his lady to land nearby? Please share your sighting with a comment.