A spreadwing damselfly (Lestes sp.)

First spreadwing of the season

A spreadwing damselfly (Lestes sp.)
A early-season spreadwing damselfly (probably Spotted Spreadwing, Lestes congener), Boulder, Colorado, USA. June 29, 2012.

Today I spotted the first spreadwing damselfly (Family Lestidae) I’ve seen this season. It was cunningly not spreading its wings at first, but the metallic green body, pruinose (waxy blue-white) abdomen tip, and bright blue eyes gave it away even before it reset its wings to a more typical spreadwing pose.

A spreadwing damselfly (Lestes sp.)
The same spreadwing in a more typical pose.
Most damselflies rest with wings folded along their bodies or slightly above their backs, so the wings-askew pose is distinctive to spreadwings.

This one seems to have at least one dark spot on the bottom of its thorax, so combined with my location, that narrows it down to Spotted Spreadwing (Lestes congener), which has two spots, or a few other Lestes species, which sometimes show one one. I wasn’t able to get a good look or photograph of the tail appendages, which definitively distinguish males of these species, but it looks to me like it has two thorax spots, as well as a stepped line demarcating the dark and light portions of the thorax, and so is probably a Spotted Spreadwing.

My field guide says they don’t start flying until later in July, but pretty much all the odonate species around here have starting flying significantly earlier this year, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. But I’m not a hundred percent confident of this identification–I need to remember to try to get better photos of the appendages with damselflies


4 thoughts on “First spreadwing of the season”

  1. I can’t blame you for taking a million pictures! They’re way too cool — almost honorary dragonflies in my book.

    It’s not useless if you know what it is. (And it’s ADORABLE.)

    1. Definitely almost honorary dragonflies! They’re ridiculously big for damsels. And they were very nicely cooperative photography subjects, which always endears insects to me.

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