InstructionsUse the keyGroupsfamAnatomy
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Insecta
Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Family Calopterygidae
Common Name Broad-winged damselflies or demoiselles
Distinguishing Characteristics
  • First segment of antennae are elongated and longer than the combined length of the remaining segments (1)
  • Long and slender body (2)
  • The lateral gills are longer than the median gill (2)
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     Calopterygidae are found in permanent streams along the banks. Favoring lotic environments, this family seeks residence in areas of high vegetation and debris (1,3).

Life History
     Univoltine or semivoltine depending on the species. The adults have a flight period primarily from later May to October (1). Mating occurs during the flight period and can be performed up to 200 times, although sperm transmission is known to only occur up to two times (4).
     The highly territorial males become aggressive during mating season and have been observed chasing and/or attacking intruding males (3). The average territory is a 2 meter area positioned along the water. Within this area there is at least one perch and several oviposition sites. A mature male occupies a territory for 1-8 days and waits for fertile females to approach the territory (4). A complex courtship occurs as the male approaches from above and mounts the female, positioning himself for the tandem position. Once the male anal appendages are attached to the female prothorax the male and female get closer together. Sperm is transported from the gonopore, located on the male's ninth abdomen segment to the penis vesicle, found on the second segment (4). The female responds to the male by swinging her abdomen forward, creating a heart-shaped loop, in order for the transmission of sperm to the spermatheca to occur (2).

Feeding Behavior
     Calopterygidae larvae feed on small invertebrates and use a mask-like, elongated labium to capture prey. Once the labium has been extended to grasp the prey, the mandibles are used to hold and devour the organism (5). Mayfly larvae are common prey for Calopterygidae, where a swarming technique has been observed as an effective method used to consume large quantities (5).
     Calopterygidae nymphs are commonly fed upon by minnows, tadpoles, and large predatory insects such as beetles (6).
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(1) Thorp, J.H. and A.P. Covich. 2010. Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates, pp. 587-657. Elsevier Inc. Boston.

(2) Cummings, K.W. and R.W. Merritt. 1996. An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America. Kendall and Hunt Publishing Company. Boston.

(3) Stettmer, C. 1996. Colonisation and dispersal patterns of banded (Calopteryx splendens) and beautiful demoiselles (C.virgo) (Odonata: Calopteryigidae) in south-east German streams. European Journal of Entomology 93:578-593.

(4) Waage, J.K. 1973. Reproductive Behavior and its relation to territoriality in Calopteryxmaculata (Beauvious) (Odonata: Calopterygidae). Behavior 47:240-256.

(5) Tennessen, K J. 1984. The nymphs of Calopteryx amata and C. angustipennis (Odonata: Calopterygidae). Entomological Society of Washington 86:602-607.

(6) McCafferty, M.P. 1979. Swarm-Feeding by the Damelfly Hetaerina americana (Odonata: Calopterygidae) on Mayfly Hatches. Aquatic Insects 1.3:149-151.