Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Lestes dryas  Kirby, 1890
Emerald Spreadwing

Lestidae, Spreadwing Family


Global: G5     Wisconsin: S4    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Varying from 1.3 to 1.6 inches, the emerald spreadwing has been considered one of the smallest and stockiest spreadwings. The male's thorax is bright metallic green above with thin pale shoulder stripes and pale yellow to pale blue sides. The abdomen is bright bronzy green above with a blue-gray tip when mature. The colors are obscured by pruinosity as the spreadwings age, especially in males. The male is more elongated than the female which is rather stocky. The female is duller the male and similar to other small spreadwings, although often very greenish above compared to the northern, southern and lyre-tipped spreadwing females. Like the sweetflag spreadwing, the ovipositor is very long. However, the emerald spreadwing has a metallic green thorax whereas the sweetflag spreadwing does not.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Ranging throughout most of United States (not southeast) and Canada, this species can be found at a variety of vegetated still-water habitats, often acidic and/or temporary, including marshy ponds and stream backwaters. In Wisconsin, it is infrequently found in mostly northern counties. However, we need to emphasize that the southern half of the state has not been adequately surveyed for spreadwings.

Flight Season:

Late June to late August in Wisconsin.

Shading illustrates monthly percentages of the total flight season records for the species. Each flight season record is a unique date/location/observer combination where one or more adult or an exuvia was recorded (excludes nymphs). The actual number of flight season records for each month is shown in parentheses.

Flight seasons begin earlier in the southern part of the state, often by a week or more. Also, flight charts may not be accurate for rare species because of few data available.
View user-submitted photos

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo of Male emerald spreadwing
Male emerald spreadwing. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Male emerald spreadwing
Male emerald spreadwing. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Male emerald spreadwing
Male emerald spreadwing. © Mike Reese

Photo of Female emerald spreadwing
Female emerald spreadwing. © Dan Jackson

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