Ebony Jewelwing

A large black-winged, green bodied insect sits on a leaf.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman


Usually we think of damselflies as being smaller and more delicate than the large robust dragonflies. But at two inches in length, the spectacular ebony jewelwing is an exception as it is larger than some dragonflies.

There is a similar species called the river jewelwing, but their wings are more slender and the first two thirds of the wing are smoky transparent with only the tips being coal black.

These damselflies are among our most beautiful insects. Their brilliant metallic green bodies flash sunlight as they flit around streamside vegetation and their large black wings quickly attract attention.

They are also short-lived, usually only living as a flying adult for about two weeks.

Watch for Behavior

These insects have the unnerving habit of turning their heads and watching their human observers. It is one of these insects fascinating qualities that has made it a favorite of many.

Also watch for courting behavior. A perched female, when courted by a male, will accept his presence by rapidly opening and closing her wings. If she rejects him, however, she will open her wings and leave them extended. Males will frequently flick their wings to warn off completing males.


Key ID Features: Very large, dark damselfly. Male is pictured above. Female the same, but with small white spots towards end of wing.

Present in Park: May through August. The best place to find these beautiful insects in our park is along Minnehaha Creek, although they can also be found flitting occasionally along the Mississippi River and other locations.

Habitat: Cleaner, faster streams that run through sun-dappled forest openings. Sometimes in meadows near forests but always close to water.

Last updated: December 4, 2017

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111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul , MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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