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

Cryptic Spreadwing.    Kriptiese Spanvlerkie.

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Short Description:

Cryptic Spreadwing, Lestes dissimulans, Genus Lestes, Family Lestidae medium-sized greyish blue, speckled with bright blue eyes above and greyish below.

Key identification features:


  • Highly variable in colour varying from brown to grey blue.
  • Greyish blue thorax has small dark spots on the sides and ornamental markings on the dorsal thorax. 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 L. dissimilis are longer (>1 mm.) The pterostigmas of L. tridens is <1mm.
Distribution and habitat:
  • Savanna 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.
  • Hangs with wings outstretched from grass stems and rushes over water. Breeds in the stems of sedge. Strong flyer 
Further reading and other information:
Distribution Map Books:
The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa ... p.26
A Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa   p. 48
Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa … P 197

Draginfly Biotic Index … p. 51
Odonata Atlas of AfricaOdonata Atlas of Africa Number 660320
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species  Least Concern
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online
Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram
Dragonflies, Damselflies
Morphology of a
Dragonfly,  Damselfly
Map of South Africa

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