Another damselfly! Leonard and I went over to Ash Creek (Lassen County CA) the other evening. The air over the creek was filled with damselflies and dragonflies. Every so often I could see a bright red flash along the bank – an American rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)! The few rubyspots were much more alert to my presence than the other dragonflies and damselflies, but eventually I managed to get close enough for a couple of photographs.
American rubyspots are considered pond damsels, most of which are blue and black. This is a confusing categorization, because although rubyspots are occasionally found near ponds, they more often prefer streams and rivers. Often inconspicuous except when flying, rubyspots are unlike any other damselfly in our area (northeastern California) because of their coloration. With their bright red color this damselfly is difficult to misidentify. Rubyspots are widespread through most of the United States and southern Canada, although so far no reports of rubyspots exist for Washington and Idaho.
Like the majority of other damselflies, rubyspots hold their wings upright, sail-like. over their abdomens when perched. The wings are ruby red at the base. The red patch increases in size with age. The thorax is a duller red while the abdomen is a bronzy-brown with inconspicuous wings. Females are not as showy with the red at the base of the wings less intense or sometimes amber. The leg spines on both sexes are long.
After mating the female completely submerges to oviposit (lay her eggs), staying completely underwater for as long as an hour. Most other damselflies deposit their eggs on vegetation. The male stands guard over the spot where the female entered the water while she oviposts. With the female under the water and the male above the water, I am not certain how protective this sentinel duty truly is.
In the fading light, the bright red flash of an American rubyspot patrolling the stream bank is a beautiful sight.