Length 50-62 mm, large for a damselfly.
large spreadwing with yellow stripe on side of thorax in both sexes; males usually darker; eyes bright blue in males, paler in females
Western and southern North America (more common in the west).
Central America and northern South America. Since 1920s has expanded its North American range east and north.
Small ponds, streams. Breeds in heavily vegetated unpolluted water. Females oviposit in vegetation such as water iris while clasped by male. Males perch "hanging" from such vegetation either over or near water, usually fairly low (under 2 feet.) Occasionally the nymphs can be spotted in winter, basking in sunwarmed shallow water alongside tadpoles...recognizable by their "Y" "tails" (actually, gills.)
Although Great Spreadwings are usually found close to water, we have also found them in a small woods on a seasonal stream, even when the stream had recently dried up.
Summer to early fall (beginning earlier and ending later in the south)
During mating, and after collection of sperm, the female cuts a slit in emergent vegetation and oviposits in it. Nymphs then develop underwater until they climb out, ready to emerge as adults. Emergence usually occurs under cover of darkness.
Great Spreadwings are relatively easy to photograph, as they remain still longer than many Odonate species, and when startled often return to the same perch or one nearby.
Other spreadwings are smaller and lack the yellow thoracic stripe.