The ebony jewelwing is a damselfly, which are closely related to dragonflies and look very much alike. The easiest way to tell dragonflies and damselflies apart is to look at the wings. Dragonfly wings stick straight out from the body when the dragonfly is resting. Damselfly wings usually fold back above the body. Ebony jewelwings grow up to two inches long. Males are larger and have a big black head, green body, and black wings. Females also have black wings, but they have a lighter colored body and a white spot on their wings.
Ebony jewelwings are found wherever there are shady forest streams. When they fly, they look a lot like a butterfly because they flutter. They often stop to rest on leaves or twigs. Jewelwings mate in the summer. The male grabs the female behind her head with his tail. After mating, female jewelwings lay eggs inside soft stems of water plants. Eggs hatch into larvae called naiads. Ebony jewelwing naiads eat small aquatic insects. When they are fully grown, the naiads crawl out of the water and molt (leave their old skin). The adult jewelwing can soon fly off and look for a mate.
Ebony jewelwings can be seen flying from May to August. They eat large numbers of gnats, aphids, flies, and other insects. Predators of jewelwings include birds, bats, and dragonflies. The young naiads may be eaten by fish, turtles, and other insects, such as large diving beetles. Ebony jewelwings also may fly far from water. They can be seen in the middle of the woods, whereas most damselflies and dragonflies are usually seen near ponds, lakes, or rivers.