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 To learn more about the groups (genera) of Spreadwings, click on the links at left.

These aptly-named damsels often perch obliquely with their wings partially open unlike most other damsels. They average between 1.5 - 3" (25 - 50) mm in length.

These are large damselflies, with body coloration that varies from bluish gray to iridescent green or bronze. Compared to other damselflies, they have long abdomens and relatively short wings. The large Spreadwings have contrasting white or yellow stripes on the sides of their thorax and relatively long abdomens, while the smaller species lack a contrasting yellow or white stripe on sides of the thorax and have stockier abdomens. When sexually mature, males generally develop a bluish-gray pruinosity at the tip of their abdomen and on their thorax. Males have blue eyes which sit separated on top of the head. All species have pale antehumeral stripes, commonly referred to as shoulder stripes. The color and width of these stripes can help in identification.

Females are dull in coloration and have somewhat stockier abdomens with a prominent ovipositor underneath the tip. They use this ovipositor to cutting a slit into plant tissues or wet wood where they lay their eggs. The eggs are laid either above or just below the waters surface. Later, the plants will die and fall into the water, and the eggs will develop. Many of these species oviposit in tandem.

Spreadwing larvae are very long and slender, in shades of green or brown, and have long gills with rounded ends rather than the leaf-like gills of the Pond Damsels. They can be found in submerged vegetation in a wide variety of environments. They are active, underwater hunters and vigorous swimmers, more so than other larvae.

The larvae emerge during the day, generally on shoreline vegetation such as cattails and sedges, but occassionally on rocks or driftwood.

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