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Austrolestes cingulatus.jpg
Female Austrolestes cingulatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Lestidae
Calvert 1901

The Lestidae are a rather small family of cosmopolitan, large-sized, slender damselflies. They are of the order of the dragonflies (Odonata) and are commonly known as spreadwings. The two subfamilies in Lestidae are Lestinae and Sympecmatinae. Damselflies in Lestinae rest with their wings partly open; the damselflies in Sympecmatinae, reedlings, ringtails, and winter damselflies, rest with their wings folded. The exact taxonomy of the family is disputed, with some authorities including twelve genera[1] and some eight.[2]


A male Lestes dryas in the "spread-winged" posture that gives the family its common name

While most damselflies rest with their wings folded together, most members of the family Lestidae hold them at an angle away from their bodies. The pterostigma (a single dark spot in the meshwork of the leading edge near the tip of each wing) is noticeably elongated. The quadrilateral (a part of the wing venation, close to the body) has an acute angle at the end. The body has a greenish, metallic shine. The superior anal appendages, commonly called claspers (body parts of male insect for clasping the female during copulation) of male spreadwings are long and strongly curved.

Breeding takes place in slow-moving or still water in stream backwaters, swamps, marshes and temporary pools. The nymphs have a long abdomen and a distinctive prementum (part of the lower lip). There is one generation per year in North American species.[3]


  1. ^ Davies, D.A.L. (1981). A synopsis of the extant genera of the Odonata. Soc. Int. Odonatol. 3 : i-xiv 1-59
  2. ^ Bridges, C.A. (1994). Catalogue of the family-group, genus-group and species-group names of the Odonata of the world, 3e éd.. Urbana, Illinois. xiv 951 pp.
  3. ^ John L. Capinera (2008). Encyclopedia of Entomology. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 1244. ISBN 978-1-4020-6242-1. 

See also[edit]