Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Archilestes grandis - Great Spreadwing

Great Spreadwing - Archilestes grandis - female Great Spreadwing - Archilestes grandis - male - female Great Spreadwing - Archilestes grandis - male Spread-wing Damselfly - Archilestes grandis - male WI081614 - 008 - Archilestes grandis - female Largish Damselfly - Archilestes grandis - female Lestidae - Archilestes grandis - male - female Dark Lestes Damselfly? - Archilestes grandis
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
Suborder Zygoptera (Damselflies)
Family Lestidae (Spreadwings)
Genus Archilestes
Species grandis (Great Spreadwing)
Size
Length 50-62 mm, large for a damselfly.
Identification
large spreadwing with yellow stripe on side of thorax in both sexes; males usually darker; eyes bright blue in males, paler in females
Range
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.
Habitat
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.
Season
Summer to early fall (beginning earlier and ending later in the south)
Life Cycle
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.
Remarks
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.
See Also
Other spreadwings are smaller and lack the yellow thoracic stripe.
Internet References
Giff Beaton's page live photographs
Odonata Central (Texas) species account