Lestes stultus

Black Spreadwing is a black-and-white pond spreadwing that is widespread through the California lowlands. Its status in Monterey County is not known as there are currently only two specific records. Yet these are so far apart that one suspects it is also a widespread ode of temporary ponds and marshes throughout the MTY foothills. The photos (above & below) are of MTY's second record, found by Steve Rovell on 14 July 2006 at a pond east of Salinas. It is a nice male with black-and-white abdominal pattern and blue eyes.
photos (above & below) 14 July 2006 at Lagunita Lake
© Steve Rovell, used with permission
I use Rovell's full-frame shot (right) to illustrate the actual size of this spreadwing: about 2 inches long. Yet it is considered to be the "largest and stockiest" of our local pond spreadwings (Manolis 2003). Like all the spreadwings, it perches with the wings spread apart. Recent genetic evidence suggests that spreadwings are not part of the damselfly suborder but are either better placed within the dragonfly suborder, or, possibly, in an intermediate position, similar to a "living fossil" suborder in eastern Asia [see the discussion of "taxonomy and phylogeny" on the MTY Checklist page].
In Steve Rovell's close-up shot of the male appendage, we can see the important i.d. features for Black Spreadwing. The two curved cerci are outermost, and between them are the two paraprocts (lower appendages). These are long and 'foot-shaped' at their tips, with the 'feet' toeing inward.
The first MTY record of Black Spreadwing was found by Paul Johnson on 2 July 2005 along the upper Arroyo Seco River, "5 km SW of Junipero Serra peak, at the crossing of Arroyo Seco [=Indians?] Road, lat/long: N 36.14° W 121.46° N" per the details on the Univ. of Texas web site. The elevation here was 690 m., and the habitat described as a "small, sluggish, shady stream." It is said that the specimen "will be deposited in Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley." This was just north of The Indians and just before the road is closed by a gate.

At Lake Lagunitas, on private property in the Diablo Range foothills east of Salinas, Rovell found MTY's second L. stultus along the edge of reeds growing in a farm pond that is used as a drinking spot for cattle. The Arroyo Seco River site, and the Lake Lagunitas site are a long distance apart and are in the foothills of different mountain ranges. This makes me suspect that Black Spreadwing is waiting to be found at many sites with reedy ponds or slow streams in-between.

Black Spreadwing is currently known from only two sites, but is probably more widespread.

Both records so far are from July. Elsewhere in California, the flight dates range from April through July, with very few still flying into September (Manolis 2003).

On a taxonomic note, Manolis (2003) cites genetic studies that show a very close relationship between Black Spreadwing and Emerald Spreadwing Lestes dryas, a widespread montane species in California's higher mountains. Although the color pattern between the two is quite different, the male appendages are also very similar.

Literature cited:
  • Manolis, T. 2003. Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley.
Web resources:
Major identification web sites with much information on California odes include: For sites with excellent photos to compare for identification or to simply enjoy, see: Many of these sites have links to other useful pages. Kathy Biggs's site is particularly useful in her selection of links.

All text © Don Roberson 2007; photos © Steve Rovell 2006, used with permission


Page created 12 Oct 2006