Highland Spreadwing, Lestes plagiatus Gewone Spanvlerkie

100 806 Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Male Vaalwater LP RSA Mch 2021r 2
100 347 Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Male Rust De Winter LP RSA Sept 2017
100 352 Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Female Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2018r 2
Family Lestidae        (Calvert, 1901)
Short description:

Highland Spreadwing, Lestes plagiatus Gewone Spanvlerkie is fairly large sized (larger than most other Spreadwings in the region). Inconspicuous, greyish-blue with a distinctly striped thorax.but may be highly variable in colour.

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Key identification features:


  • Face dark grey, labrum greenish blue. Head dark grey from above, merging into blue and finally to deep yellow on back of head. Neck yellow in front, dark grey with heavy pruinescence at back.
  • Eyes bright blue above, with greyish green below
  • Thorax strongly striped dark grey, straw yellow and blue with pruinescence below; becomes overall light grey pruinescent in old age. Area between wing bases heavily pruinescent
  • Clear wings which becoming smoky with age. Pterostigmas is uniformly dark brown.
  • Abdomen bright metallic green, becoming dull metallic green to bluish grey with age.Segments 9 and 10 pruinescent whitish grey.Dark upper appendages long and curved down in side view.
  • Older species are dark greyish-blue with much pruinescence.


  • Similar to male, mostly brown and green;eyes much browner with only a trace of blue.
  • Thorax light brown with bronze stripes.

Highland Spreadwing, Lestes plagiatus Gewone Spanvlerkie is common and widespread across the eastern side of South Africa.
Frequents still-water habitats including fringes of dams, ponds, pools, slow flowing streams and
rivers where there is emergent sedge and tall grass or reeds.
From 0 to 2200 m above sea level, but mostly between 600 and 1700.

  • Hangs wings outstretched on tall grass stems and in full sunshine.
Compared with other species:
  • Highland Spreadwing, Lestes plagiatus Gewone Spanvlerkie is similar to L. pallidus, Pallid Spreadwing and L. pallidus, Smoky Spreadwing.
  • Another striped species is L. pallidus, but is smaller and the thorax is very pale.
  • Thorax stripes never green. L. virgatus has yellowish wings.
  • The tips of the cerci are bent distinctly downwards, rather than towards each other, and the paraprocts are rounded without slender apical process.
Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Distribution Map July 2020










South Africa:

  • Highland Spreadwing, Lestes plagiatus Gewone Spanvlerkie is common and widespread across the eastern side of South Africa.


  •  ngola; Botswana; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Republic of South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Further reading for Highland Spreadwing, Lestes plagiatus

Odonata Atlas of Africa - VMU Number 660360
The IUCN Red list of Threatened Species
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa


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