Spreadwings (Lestidae)

Note: Nine species of spreadwings have been found in Georgia, and they are all difficult to identify without examining genitalia under a magnifying lens. Books which show detail enough to identify the species in Georgia include:
-Damselflies of the Northeast, by Ed Lam. Has all of GA's species, and by far the best choice.
-Damselflies of North America, by Westfall and May. The best descriptions, few photos but plenty of detailed illustration. Not cheap, but indispensable if you really want to study them.
-Damselflies of Florida, by Dunkle. Excellent large photos and illustration, but out of print. Has most of Georgia's species.
-Dragonflies and Damselflies of NE Ohio, by Rosche. Excellent detailed illustrations, but has fewer GA species.
-Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies, by Nikula (Stokes guide, includes damselflies). Excellent photos, but not as many species.

 Here are representative scans of all the Georgia species.

Great Spreadwing (Archilestes grandis)

Large species, note distinctive thoracic pattern. Six adult records in GA.      


4 Jul- 3 Nov

Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis)

Males have blue eyes, shoulder stripes, and abdominal segments near the tip. Widespread but can be difficult to distinguish from Carolina except in hand. Note pale color of shoulder stripe varies and less pale blue near tip of abdomen compared to Carolina, generally not two full segments. Formerly a subspecies of the more northern Common Spreadwing.

1 Apr- 16 Nov


Carolina Spreadwing (Lestes vidua)

About nine records. Very similar to Southern Spreadwing. Adult male Carolinas have a chestnut-red shoulder stripe, which Southern never has. Usually have two full pale blue segments near the tip of the abdomen, and Southern usually has one full plus part of another. Adult female is very similar to Southern female but most have last couple of abdominal segments pruinose gray, as at lower left.

31 Jan- 16 Nov


Spotted Spreadwing (Lestes congener)

This species was discovered in Georgia in 2006 at Crockford-Pigeon Mountain WMA  in Walker County. All ages can be identified by the two brown spots along the lower edge of the thorax.

10 May- 6 Nov

Amber-winged Spreadwing (Lestes eurinus)

This is the only GA record, from Walker County 23 May 2003.

Sweetflag Spreadwing (Lestes forcipatus)

This species was discovered in Georgia in 2005 by Marion Dobbs, at one tiny pond in Walker County. Males can be extremely difficult to tell from Southern Spreadwing, and need to be examined in the hand to be sure. They have been found here again in 2006, and at a different but nearby site.

2 Jul- 28 Sep

Elegant Spreadwing (Lestes inaequalis)

Male at upper left, other two are females. Note female has green upper and yellow lower eyes and thorax, but still need to be examined in hand. About 10 records.

11 Apr- 20 Sep


Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis)

All adult males except imm. male lower right and female middle right. Note yellow vein around tips to wings. Only male spreadwing with no blue segments on abdomen. Has only been found in 15 counties, but many do not take the time to try to id every damselfly...

17 Apr- 19 Oct

Swamp Spreadwing (Lestes vigilax)

Fairly common throughout Georgia. Like all spreadwings, just about has to be examined in hand to determine species. Note shape of male appendages and single blue segment at upper left, and females on right. Male has chestnut shoulder stripe like Carolina, but darker overall and much larger.

4 Apr- 17 Nov

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