Emerald Damselfly, Lestes sponsa

The emerald damselfly (Lestes sponsa), also known as the common spreadwing, is a species of damselfly that can be found in Europe and Asia, in a large range that extends from France to the Pacific Ocean. It prefers to reside near slow moving moors, pools, and ponds. It is the only common species from its genus, Lestes, in Great Britain and is thought to occur in areas of North Africa.

The emerald damselfly has an average abdomen length of up to 1.2 inches, with a wingspan of between .7 and .9 inches. Males and females differ in appearance, although both have a metallic green coloring. Males hold blue markings on the thorax and have blue eyes, while females lack this blue coloring in both areas.

The emerald damselfly can be seen between the months of July and August, perching on reeds and other aquatic plants with its wings slightly separated, which is typical to other members of its family. This species can be seen in rainy or foggy weather despite its awkward flight movements. Populations of this species are rather large, reaching about a few hundred individuals.

The emerald damselfly breeds in a similar manner to dragonflies and will remain attached while the female lays her eggs. The female will fly down to the surface of the water and dip her abdomen into submerged vegetation, although it has been found that some eggs are laid on dry vegetation that will become submerged. The resulting eggs develop for a few weeks, but then enter a state of diapause during the winter months. The eggs hatch during the spring months and continue to develop until July, when they emerge from the water and transform into adults. Young adults are sexually mature after about one week.

Image Caption: Lestes sponsa, Cheshire, England. Credit: Rixonrixon/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)