101 043 Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Male Tzaneen LP October 2012100 347 Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Male Rust De Winter LP RSA Sept 2017r 1100 352 Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Female Ezemvelo GP RSA Nov 2018r 2

Highland Spreadwing.    Gewone Spanvlerkie.

Family Lestidae Calvert, 1901
  • Lestes plagiatus (Burmeister, 1839)
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100 348 Lestes plagiatus Highland Spreadwing Young Male Kimiad GP RSA Dec 2016r 2Images101 039 Lestes plagiatus Highland Speadwing Male Tshipise LP December 2012Male


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Short description

Fairly large sized (larger than most other Spreadwings in the region). Inconspicuous, greyish-blue with a distinctly striped thorax.

Key identification features:


  • Clear wings which never become yellowish.
  • Pterostigmas is uniformly dark brown.
  • Strongly light and dark brown striped thorax with narrow metallic green stripes.
  • Dark upper appendages long and curved down in side view.
  • Older species are dark greyish-blue with much pruinescence.


  • Thorax light brown with bronze stripes.
Compared with other species:
  • 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.
Distribution and habitat:

http://vmus.adu.org.za/vm_map_afr.php?&database=odonata&grid=2&outline=1&key=0&map=4&spp=%20660360Common 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.
Further reading:
Odonata Atlas of Africa - VMU Number 660360
The IUCN Red list of Threatened Species
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
African Dragonflies & Damselflies Online



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