Thursday, October 1, 2009


Spreadwing Damselflies in the family Lestidae are found throughout most of North America.They earned their name from their habit of holding their wings out in a "Spreading" fashion. They range in size from  1 1/4 to 2 1/4 inches. They are common around wetlands, slow moving brackish waters, marshes, streams, ponds and temporary watering holes. Males are more colorful than females, and are usually shades of blue, dark gray or greenish. Females are more cryptically colored in shades of brown.

Mating takes place near the wetlands that they favor. After mating, the female will use her ovipositor located near the tip of her abdomen to slice slits into plant stems. She will then lay eggs within these openings. This usually occurs 3 to 4 inches above the surface of the water. When the young nymphs hatch they will drop into the water. They will live an aquatic life for the next year or so, feeding on aquatic insects.

Early in the summer large populations of these may occur in what appears to be population explosions. When the nymphs are ready to shed their larval skin for the last time, they will crawl up on a stalk and their exoskeleton will split down the back and the new adult will emerge. Many times these little nymphs all leave the water at the same time. Which causes these huge explosions in numbers.  This past summer I had hundreds of these lovely damselflies all over near our garden and an old dried up pond that sometimes holds water, especially after the spring rains. I would walk down there around the old pond and these lovely little damselflies would land all over me. They are fairly easy to approach, and fun to photograph.


  1. Never saw spread-wing damselflies in our area. Always enjoy reading and learning from your detailed posts.

  2. Thanks Birdy, they really are unusual little damselflies.