Monday, January 25, 2016

Species Spotlight: Spotted Spreadwing

A large and widespread spreadwing damselfly.  The spots referred to in the common name are dark spots on the underside of the thorax, and are not generally seen.

This species is frequently seen flying in tandem as they go about the business of laying eggs.  Wings are held out at 45˚ to the body when perched.

Male: The key identifying feature for this species is the “staircase” pattern of light-colored, rectangular bars on the sides of the thorax.  In addition, the front of the thorax is dark.  The abdomen is dark over most of its length, but has a powder blue tip.  The eyes are an intense blue.

Female:  The female is overall brown in color, including the eyes, though she sports the same “staircase” pattern as the male on the sides of the thorax.  The abdomen is brown, with an enlarged tip where the ovipositor is housed.

Habitat and Behavior:  Small ponds and ditches.  Eggs are laid in tandem, with the female probing the stem of a plant, then cutting a slit in it with her ovipositor, and finally depositing eggs in the slit.  In general, the eggs are laid on stems above dry ground, but in an area where the stems will be submerged later in the year.

The Spotted Spreadwing is widespread across North America.  Its flight season peaks in August and September.

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