Friday, February 11, 2011

The Rubyspot Up Close and Personal

This is one of my favorite photos: A female American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana) in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon. She was very cooperative, perching on very light river cobbles with more light cobbles in the background. This really allows us to get a look at the fine patterning and color transitions.

Female American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana) on the South Fork Umpqua River, Oregon.

I just love looking it over and soaking up all the little details—the coppery/bronzy sheen on the dark brown parts of the body, the pattern of light and dark on the thorax and abdomen, the white wing veins against the dark reddish-brown wing base, how those reddish-brown bases transition to amber and then almost clear where the veins are dark, the one major vein that is white out to the wing tip with a fuzzy red stripe paralleling it.

Here are some crops that show off particular areas better:

In this close-up, note the red veins on the fore wing (partially hidden by the hind wing).

She has an indistinct pterostigma (the darkened cell near the tip along the leading edge). In some
populations it is very pale and obvious, while in others it is indistinct or lacking.

This species is widespread across the eastern and southern US (barely into Canada), but largely avoids the Pacific Northwest where it is known only from Oregon in the Umpqua and southern Willamette Valleys as well as the Klamath River. Here’s a map of the entire range at


  1. I hadn't realized how unique they were in the PNW since they are common in CA right up to the northern border:

  2. @KATHY BIGGS Yes, in this region it's considered a "specialty" of the southwestern quadrant of Oregon, although oddly it has not been recorded in the Rogue Valley which is closer to California than the Umpqua Valley.

  3. Oooh, that's a handsome damsel. Looks like Kathy collected a couple not too far from where I live. When do these fly? I'll have to keep an eye out during our annual excursion to Pinnacles.

  4. @Nature ID (Katie) This species is known to fly from mid-May to mid-September in southwest Oregon. I assume its season is longer down in your area. Look for them on clear streams that are well-vegetated along the banks (for perching) and with some submerged vegetation (for ovipositing).

  5. Thanks for these brilliant photos. Just a note: in Colorado these rubyspots also show up around ponds from time to time