The American Rubyspot

Wetlands Park Friends

WHAT “FLASHY” INSECT IN CLARK COUNTY WETLANDS PARK IS IN REALITY A FIERCE AERIAL PREDATOR?

Among the show-stopping cast of metallic-hued dragonflies and damselflies zipping, darting, and hovering in the air and perching in the riparian and aquatic habitats in Clark County Wetlands Park, the American Rubyspot is a real stand-out. 

At close to two inches long, Rubyspots are large for damselflies. The males sport distinctive red spots at the base of their broad wings which get larger throughout their adult lives. Those with the largest spots seem to hold the biggest breeding territories! In contrast, females are less colorful with orangish wing patches.

Damselflies got their name because they are generally smaller and more frail-looking than their relatives, the dragonflies. In fact, they are weak flyers compared to the “dragons,” often opting to stay close to familiar water sources. Yet, when it comes to eating, Rubyspots are anything but feeble!  They are fierce aerial predators, consuming large quantities of  mosquitoes, flies, small moths, mayflies, flying ants, and termites. 

At dusk, Rubyspots may gather in large groups called foraging swarms to feed. They perch together on rocks along a bank or in the center of a stream facing the setting sun to better see their prey. When they zero in on tasty morsels, they repeatedly dart out to grab their delicacies, returning to the perching area to dine.  

American Rubyspots favor vegetated habitat along clear, rocky, flowing streams. Females lay their eggs on submerged plants and sometimes complete the entire process underwater.

Watch for these members of our jeweled “mosquito-control squad,” perched near the Las Vegas Wash or along flowing streams. You may see them with their heads down and their wings held sail-like over their abdomens or “obelisking,” where they hold their bodies almost vertical to regulate their body temperature. If you’re lucky, you may even see two males dueling above the water in a territorial display flight lasting several minutes!

Please enjoy these YouTube videos!

Female American Rubyspot on her perch

Male American Rubyspot flying from perch and returning to eat

Male and female American Rubyspot mating

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