Checklist provided by Ron Lyons

as adopted by the Dragonfly Society of the Americas
(Argia, vol.8, no.2, 1 August 1996)

New links &/or information was added to this site on
DECEMBER 31, 2001 (flight data up-dated)

The CA distribution maps were last updated on NOVEMBER 27, 2000.
Click here to access distribution in nearby states

2nd printing now available!
Common DRAGONFLIES of California
A Beginner's Pocket Guide

by Kathy Biggs

To learn more about these fascinating insect's life cycle go to "Damsels and Dragons - the Insect Order Odonata". This article by Ron Lyons, which first appeared in the Internet Pond Society's "The Internet Ponder's Online Magazine", was written in 1997 for the "Critter's in Your Pond" column I was writing the time.

Distribution Maps are maintained by Tim Manolis. They are based on information originally collected by Dennis Paulson (see address below) and they are now being updated by new sightings and specimens found in museum collections. If you find a species in a new county please contact Kathy and/or Tim.

Information for this site has been collected and edited by Kathy Biggs who assumes full responsibility.

By using the links in the first column you can directly view pictures from this site. These usually are images taken within CA or neighboring states and may download more quickly than those linked to in the `*Photo/scan at website' column since those are hosted at other sites. Photos in the first column contributed by Bob Behrstock , Rod Miller, Chris Heaivilin and/or Bob Claypole and others are of excellent quality, while my own are just snapshots. To find out more about where and when any photo was taken (or to compliment the photographer or find out about the equipment used) click on their name or [mail]. Tim Manolis has also sent me images which he has `snapped' from videos he has taken. Tim would like to hear from anyone who is interested in dragonflies in the Central Valley (Sacramento and Butte counties in particular, and also Plumas and Lassen counties).

I hope you find this website helpful. I'm always open to suggestions and would love your contributions! Please let me know if you have any problems with this site or its contents. Kathy Biggs

The species indicated below have been found in California.

References to pictures are as follows:

Audubon Guide = Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders

CA Insects = California Insects by Jerry Powell and Charles Hogue

CA Dragonflies = Common Dragonflies of California, A Beginner's Pocket Guide by Kathy Biggs

LA Insects = Insects of the Los Angeles Basin by Charles Hogue

Western Forest =The Audubon Society Nature Guides - Western Forest

Kansas Checklist = Checklist of Kansas Damselflies - The Kansas School Naturalist 1998

Dragonflies of Washington = Dragonflies of Washington by Dennis Paulson, Seattle Audubon Society 1999

* = photo/scan(s)/key available to see at this Internet website

Continue or click here to go to CA Dragonflies

Scientific Name

Common Name

Archaic Name


Habitat/Flight Dates

Picture in book

*Photo/scan at website

FAMILY Calopterygidae

Broad-winged Damselflies

AKA Jewel-winged Damselflies

2 CA genera

sizes: large, lengths 25 - 51 mm

description: wings broaden gradually from the base;
bodies green or black;
wings show some color (are not entirely clear)

Photos by Doug Ellis, Ken Wilson

Photo by Ken Wilson

*Key to larva in Michigan, UMMZ

GENUS: Calopteryx

The Jewelwings

aka Agrionidae

1 CA species

description: broad wings with metallic bodies;
dark on wings

behavior: tend to flutter

habitat: very aquatic

Photo by Doug Ellis

CA Dragonflies p. 80

*Key to larva in Michigan, UMMZ

Calopteryx aequabilis

River Jewelwing

aka californica

photo male new 10-01
photo male
photo male
photo male
photo male
photo male
photo male
photo male
photo male
photo female
photo female
photo females
photo female
photo female
scans male
scan female

distribution map

size: medium, length 43 - 52 mm

male: jewel-like bright metallic green/blue thorax and abdomen; colors vary depending on your view angle;
outer 1/3 of wings conspicuously black;

female: duller; wings have a contrasting pale stigma;
end of abdomen often pale

behavior: often perch head-down;
male is only damsel to do a courtship dance (low and slow over the water with wings held open)

habitat: fast waters of large wooded streams/rivers;
nymph found in woody debris/rootlets of vegetation

flight period: May - August

distribution: northern counties only

CA Dragonflies p. 80

Dragonflies of Washington, p. 4

*Scans by Dennis Paulson
at Washington Odonata Photo Gallery

*Photos by James Durbin and Jim Bangma
at Iowa Odonates

*Photo by Mark O'Brien
at U. Michigan-Odonata Photo Archive

*Photo of nymph head at Odonata Larvae of Michigan

*Photo by Blair Nikula
at Dragonflies & Damselflies of Massachusetts

*Photo #3 at New York Odes Online Field Guide

*Photo by Stuart Tingley
at Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Brunswick

*Info with photo by Blair Nikula

GENUS: Hetaerina

The Rubyspots

1 CA species

size: medium, slender, length 38 - 46 mm

description male: bronzey-brown body;
males have ruby/carmine basal wing spot

habitat: occur over slow moving water

Photo by Ken Wilson

CA Dragonflies p. 77

*Key to larva in Michigan, UMMZ

Hetaerina americana

American Rubyspot

photo male
photo male
photo male
photo 5 males
photo mating pair
photo female
photo female
photo female
photo female
scan male
scan male
scans females

distribution map

size: medium, length 38 - 46 mm

description male: the wings are a ruby red at base;
thorax red as if seen through black glass;
abdomen bronzy-brown with inconspicuous rings;
female: less colorful; light eyes;
abdomen top very dark green;
wing patches orangeish-red with a streak out to the pale stigma;
some thoracic striping
nymph: found in edges of gently flowing streams/rivers in woody debris/leafy matter

similar species: like no other California damselfly;
in the southern part of CA and Merced County*
compare to H. vulnerata * by appendages

*there is a questionable record for CA from this county

habitat: sunlit fast waters of streams/rivers

flight period: March - November;
(seen in Feb. in Anza-Borrego once)

distribution: common statewide

CA Dragonflies p. 77

CA Insects p46 #18

LA Insects: Co. Ruby Spot, Fig 26, 27

Audubon Guide: Ruby Spot pl. 359

Kansas Checklist p8 #2

Kansas Checklist back cover #2

*Photo at Photos by William Zittrich in California
new 10-01

* Photos by Douglas Aguillard at Dragonflies of San Diego & Imperial Counties new 11-01

*Photo by Joshua Rose
his Dragonfly Pics site"
new 11-01

*Photo by Stuart Tingley
at Arizona Ode Photos

*Photos & scans by James Lasswell
at Damselflies of Texas

*Photo by Omar Bocanegra
at The Odonata of Tarrant County

*Photo by Joshua Stuart Rose
at his homepage

*Photo of pair by Roy Beckemeyer
at Odonata Photo Album

*Scan #1 and #2 by Roy Beckemeyer
at Kansas Odonata

new 10-01

*Photos inc. of emergence
at The TIARA (TX) Biodiversity Project

*Photos by Dave McShaffrey
at Ohio Odonata

*Photos by Ann Johnson
at Iowa Odonates

*Photo of nymph at Odonata Larvae of Michigan

*Photo by Raphael Carter at MINNESOTA DRAGONFLIES

*Photos at Bob Barber's New Jersey Odonate Photos
new 10-01

*Photo #5 by Steve Walter
at New York Odes Online Field Guide

*Photos by Blair Nikula
at Ode News

*Sketch by Needham
at THE MICHIGAN Photo Archive

*Photos by Blair Nikula
at Ode News
new 10-01

*Info with photo by Edward S. Ross

*Photo by Ro Wauer at USGS (Govt.) site
(Please note inaccurate map)

2nd printing now available!
Common DRAGONFLIES of California
A Beginner's Pocket Guide

by Kathy Biggs

Includes damselflies

Click here to return to The CA Damselflies family site

Send e-mail to Kathy Biggs if you would like to request a
field list of California Odonata that you can down load(Word 7.0 doc 32K)

For help in identifying CA Odonata, go to "FIELD KEY TO ADULT CALIFORNIA DRAGONFLIES (ODONATA) " .
This is a BETA version key and it includes damselflies. It needs field testing. (There is also an OLD key using wing venation and sexual appendages in "Aquatic Insects of California" by Unsinger, but this has been out of print for several years. The California Library system should have copies of Unsinger's book available for in-library reference work).

To learn more about these fascinating insects go to Ron Lyon's informative site:
Damsels and Dragons - the Insect Order Odonata.

To encourage dragonflies and damselflies, build a pond "and they will come!"
Read Kathy's article The Pleasures of Wildlife Ponding by clicking here.


Click here to go to the Biggs's Wildlife Pond


here to go to the Biggs's Pond Wildlife Sightings List with links to photos of some of our visitors


Click here to see pictures of the Biggs's pond and its development.

If you have any corrections or additions to this site please send e-mail to Kathy Biggs