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Elegant Spreadwing

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Lestes inaequalis

Walsh, 1862

Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Superfamily Lestoidea
Family Lestidae
Genus Lestes
Species inaequalis Walsh, 1862 [Lestes]
Syn Lestes virgo Calvert, 1897


This is a large eastern species that is confined to localized populations in the piney woods of the Austroriparian biotic province within our region. Males have a dark metallic green head and generally pale spots lateral to each ocellus. The rear of the head is yellow and tje are eyes blue above; greenish-yellow below. The pterothorax is metallic green except for the black on the middorsal and antealar carinae and thin line along the humeral suture. The mesepimeron is metallic green for its full width posteriorly, narrowing to half this width anteriorly. The pterothorax is yellow ventrolaterally and may become entirely pruinose with maturity, but the color pattern is never completely obscured. Abdominal segments 1-8 are metallic green dorsally; pale yellow laterally. The lateral areas on segments 8-10 vary from yellow to black and the lateral parts of segments 1 and all of 9 and 10 become heavily pruinose with age. The males are unique among our species having paraprocts longer than the cerci. The females similar color to males, but the metallic green on the pterothorax may be partly replaced by brown with bronze reflections. The middorsal carina and narrow stripe along the humeral suture is always pale. The eyes are distinctly brown above, gradually becoming yellowish ventrally. The color pattern of the abdomen is like that of the male with the following exceptions. Segment 1 is metallic green dorsally on the apical 2/3 only. Segmen ts 7, 8 and 10 are pale laterally and segment 9 may or may not have a basal black band and dark lateral markings. The posterolateral margin of the ovipositor basal plate is truncate and lacks a tooth.


Total length: 45-60 mm; abdomen: 35-47 mm; hindwing: 25-31.

Similar Species

Its large size and bright green metallic color make it easily recognizable in the field. It is similar only to Swamp Spreadwing (L. vigilax ) which has rusty-brown antehumeral stripes and the back of its head is black. Emerald Spreadwing (L. dryas ) is substantially smaller


Canopy-covered permanent ponds, lakes, slow moving streams and marshes with plenty of emergent vegetation and heavily wooded shorelines.


The reproductive behavior has never been reported. The diet of this large species includes smaller damselflies. They are easily disturbed and are generally found perching in shady areas during the heat of the day. They have the unique behavior of laying eggs in tandem in the upper surface of lily pads.


Florida north to Ontario; west to Minnesota and south to Texas