Cryptic Spreadwing    Lestes dissimulans     Kriptiese Spanvlerkie

100 063  RNR LP RSA Dec 2017r 8
101 046 Lestes dissimulans Cryptic Spreadwing Pair Modimolle LP November 2013


Family Lestidae Calvert, 1901
Short Description:

Cryptic Spreadwing Lestes dissimulans Kriptiese Spanvlerkie is medium-sized greyish blue, speckled with bright blue eyes above and greyish below.

More Images:

100 155 Lestes dissimulans Cryptic Spreadwing Male Mabusa Nature Reserve MP RSA Dec 2017r 4Image Gallery

100 091 Lestes dissimulans Cryptic Spreadwing Old Male close up RNR LP RSA Jan 2016r 1Old Male

100 064 Lestes dissimulans Cryptic Spreadwing Male RNR LP RSA Dec 2017r 1Male

100 081 RNR LP RSA Dec 2017r 3Old Female

100 075 Lestes dissimulans Cryptic Spreadwing Female RNR LP RSA Dec 2017r 5Female






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Key identification features:


  • Highly variable in colour varying from brown to grey blue. 
  • Young male brown with dark spits becoming greyish blue. Thorax has small dark spots on the sides and ornamental markings on the dorsal thorax visible as to circular marks mid dorsal .Lestes dissimulans Cryptic Spreadwing Old Male close up RNR LP RSA Jan 2016 With age the dorsal thorax marking will pruinose to a greyish brown rendering the marking invisible.
  • Abdominal segments 9 -10 are fully covered by a light blue or whitish pruinosity.
  • Pterostigmas dark brown with fine pale borders, longer than 1 mm.
  • Superior appendages are black. Upper clasper has a single blunt tooth close to the base.


  • Greenish brown with similar dark spots as the male
Compared with other species:
  • L. tridens, Spotted Spreadwing, is also speckled but has whitish appendages and three teeth on the inside of each upper clasper. Also the pterostigmas of the Cryptic Spreadwing Lestes dissimulans are longer (>1 mm.) The pterostigmas of L. tridens is <1mm.
Distribution and habitat:

Distribution Map May 2020Savanna species from the northern parts of South Africa and KZN.
New records now indicate stable populations in Gauteng, Eastern parts of NWP and LP. 
Frequents shallow seasonal ponds, pools and swamps with abundance of grass and sedge in hot savanna.
From 0 to 1800 m above sea level, but mostly below 1400.

  • Hangs with wings outstretched from grass stems and rushes over water. Breeds in the stems of sedge. Strong flyer 
Further reading:

Odonata Atlas of Africa Number 660320
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species  Least Concern
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa


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