Nebraska Dragonflies and Damselflies

Southern Spreadwing

Lestes australis

Walker, 1952

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The Common Spreadwing (Lestes disjunctus) was recently split into two species: Northern Spreadwing (Lestes disjunctus) and Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis). Most individuals occuring in Nebraska are generally thought to be Southern Spreadwings. The two species are very similar and difficult to tell apart. The Southern Spreadwing is slightly lighter, larger and flies earlier. Examination of the male's cerci or the female's ovipositor is a more reliable method of identifying the species, although the differences are subtle. To make matters worse, male Southern Spreadwings closely resemble Sweetflag Spreadwings.

The male is mostly black with pale green shoulder stripes and pale lower legs. The face is pale blue and the eyes are bright blue. Abdominal segments 9 and 10 are pruinose (whitish). On both sexes the back of the head is black. Female Southern Spreadwings look very much like female Slender Spreadwings, which are a little longer and have yellow wingtips and feet.

Fairly common. This is an eastern species with Nebraska representing the northwestern edge of the range. There are two recent county records from eastern Wyoming. It is locally abundant and present in a variety of pond and marsh situations. This species appears earlier in the spring than other members of the genus and is active into mid-summer.

Southern Spreadwing
Southern Spreadwing pair
Southern Spreadwing map

Green indicates accepted county record (specimen or photograph).
Yellow indicates sight record only.

Size: 36-46mm (1.4-1.8 in)

Habitat: permanent still or slowly-moving waters having emergent vegetation

Great Plains Range: TX, OK, KS, NE, MO, IA

Flight season: early May to September

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