Western Willow Spreadwing Lestes viridis

Scientific Name: Lestes viridis. Syn. Chalcolestes viridis (Lestidae).

English Name: Western Willow Spreadwing; Willow Emerald Damselfly (Spreadwing family).

French Name: Le Leste vert (='green spreadwing').

5 Key Characters:
  • metallic green with no blue pruinosity (dusting).
  • (black tipped) pale (white) appendages (at end of abdomen).
  • large and long for a spreadwing (39 - 48 mm long, wingspan 49 - 59 mm).
  • large pale creamy brown pterostigmata (the opaque coloured cell on the leading edge of the wings near the tip) surrounded by dark veins.
  • spur shaped mark on side of thorax bordering the metallic green above.

Lookalikes: Tenerals (newly emerged) of other spreadwings, especially Small Spreadwing L. virens, before their pterastigmata darken and their blue pruinosity (dusting) develops. However, they don't have the spur shaped mark on the thorax.

Habitat: Trees and bushes, often a long way from water and in the shade, especially if it is hot. Any still or slow moving water with overhanging trees or bushes. Ponds, étangs, lakes, canals, oxbows, water courses so long as they are unpolluted. Females lay their eggs in willow Salix spp and alder Alnus spp twigs overhanging the water and the larvae fall into the water (if they miss and land on the bank they can wiggle their way to the water). They are particularly susceptible to predation by fish so if you want them breed successfully in your garden pond, don't stock with fish. The 'tracks' left by egglaying are visible and can be as much as 3 metres above the water.

Flight Period: May-June-July-August-September-October-November-December.

Status: Widespread and common. Benefits by urbanisation as it favours garden ponds and avoids seasonal bodies of water.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

Female, lurking about in the bushes.

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