LESTIDAE - Spreadwings
Archilestes Selys 1862 and Lestes Leach 1815
Fig. 1
Notes - Michigan Species List - Key - References
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Page last updated: 01/26/2017

Notes on the Michigan Species of Lestes

Lestidae is a widely distributed family of large-sized, slender damselflies. There are two genera of Lestidae in North America - Archilestes and Lestes. Archilestes is principally a neotropical genus, with two species found north of Mexico. Lestes is cosmopolitian. Presently 9 species of Lestes have been recorded in Michigan and are all fairly widespread across the state (see maps below). However, given the rapid range expansion of Archilestes grandis (Gloyd 1980) from Southwestern into the Midwest (including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) and Northeastern USA, it was a matter of time before being found in Michigan (Craves 2006). It is very likely that human-aided expansion has been due to the shipment of green-stake willows and other riparian woody plants from areas that have populations of A. grandis (O'Brien, Craves & O'Brien 2016). Larvae are characterized by their distinctively long, narrowed labium that extends in repose back to the metacoxae (Fig.1). Based on current knowledge, male larvae of Lestes cannot always be identified to species.

Larvae are usually daytime surface predators (Fischer 1972, Eriksen 1984), and are well adapted for visual hunting: they possess more ommatidia eye cells than any other family of Odonata except Aeshnidae (Corbet 1962). Larvae are found in aquatic bodies with ample aquatic vegetation and/or organic matter, usually ponds, bogs, and marshes, but also in slow-moving streams, rivers and their impoundments (for species' habitat accounts, see Walker 1941; but see also Westfall and Tennessen 1973). Several species are able to quickly develop in temporary pool and ponds. Eriksen (1984) studied the ability of L. disjunctus in a Montana bog pond control their shunt their energy toward day-time feeding when oxgyen levels are highest, and become inactive at night to reduce metabolic demands, metabolism. During nightime, when oxygen levels and larval respiration is low, larvae are largely inactive, thus in effect conserving energy for daylight hours when oxygen levels are highest, and supportive of active predation. The author believes this allows larvae to most effectively support rapid growth and emerge before aquatic conditions (temperature, oxygen) become too difficult for larvae to survive. Larvae of Archilestes are found in ponds, empoundments and streams of slow or moderate flow (Westfall and May 1996), and it's ability to survive in poor water quality may be a reason for this species rapid expansion throughout central and eastern North America (see Moskowitz and Bell, 1998)

Other links with information on the biology or ecology of larval Lestes and Archilestes:
Brief habitat notes from Ottawa, Ontario >> http://www.cyberus.ca/~jdsankey/odon2.html

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Michigan Species List

Map 1 Map 2 Map 3
Map 4 Map 5 Map 6
Map 7 Map 8Map 9
Maps 1-9: County distribution of the Michigan species of
Lestes

*Archilestes grandis (Rambur, 1842) - Great Spreadwing
Lestes congener Hagen, 1861 - Spotted Spreadwing - Map 1
Lestes disjunctus
Selys, 1862 - Common Spreadwing - Map 2
Lestes dryas
Kirby, 1890 - Emerald Spreadwing - Map 3
Lestes eurinus
Say, 1839 - Amber-winged Spreadwing - Map 4
Lestes forcipatus
Rambur, 1842 - Sweetflag Spreadwing - Map 5
Lestes inaequalis
Walsh, 1862 - Elegant Spreadwing - Map 6
Lestes rectangularis Say, 1839 - Slender Spreadwing - Map 7
Lestes unguiculatus
Hagen, 1861 - Lyre-tipped Spreadwing - Map 8
Lestes vigilax
Hagen in Selys, 1862 - Swamp Spreadwing - Map 9
*
Not yet recorded in Michigan, but due to range expansion may be encountered in southern Michigan
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Key to Mature Larvae of Michigan Lestes
(References: Walker 1953, Westfall and May 1996)

1a. Distal margin of palpal lobe with three sharp processes, the outermost markedly shorter than the movable hook (picture); caudal gills with two well-defined dark crossbands (picture) - Archilestes grandis

1b. Distal margin of palpal lobe with four processes, three sharp hooks and one truncate lobe whose edge has a serrated border within upper notch (picture); gills never with two distinct and complete dark crossbands (picture) - Lestes, 2


2a.(1b). Lateral spines present on abdominal segments 1, 2, 3 or 4-9; all gills of equal width along entire length, only 1/6 as wide as long (except at extreme tip) (picture) - 3

2b. Lateral spines present on abdominal segments 5 or 6-9; gills gradually tapering distally, widest part of median gill 1/3 to 1/5 length of gill, with dorsal margin convex (picture) - 4
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3a.(2a). Lateral spines present on abdominal segments 1-9 (picture); black-brown band on apexes of third tarsal segments (picture); slow streams and lagoons - L. inaequalis

3b. Lateral spines absent on abdominal segment 1, present on segments 2 or 3-9 (picture); apexes of third tarsal segments without black-brown banding (picture); bog-margined lakes - L. vigilax
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4a.(2b). Lateral spines present on abdominal segments 4-9 (picture); on mature larvae, hind (outer) wing pad ca. 0.75x length of lateral gills (picture); serrated process of palpal lobe with denticles jagged and irregular (picture); total length (including lateral gills) of mature larvae >35 mm; bog ponds, local distribution - L. eurinus

4b. Lateral spines present on abdominal segments or 6-9 (very rarely segment 4 on L. disjunctus and L. unguiculatus); hind wing pad at most slightly more than 0.5x length of lateral gill (picture); serrated process of palpal lob with denticles usually more or less uniform and regularly spaced (picture); total length (including lateral gills) of mature larvae < 34 mm - 5
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5a.(4b). Movable hook of each palpus with three or four long setae (picture) - 6

5b. Movable hook of each palpus with two long setae (picture) - 8
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6a.(5a). Width of slenderest part of prementum ca. 1/3 the width of the expanded distal part at base of palpi (picture); length of prementum < 3.5 mm in mature larvae (picture); permanent and semi-perminent waters - L. congener

6b. Width of slenderest part of prementum < ca. 1/4x width of the expanded distal part at base of palpi (picture); length of prementum > 3.5 mm in mature larvae (picture) - 7
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7a.(6b). Ovipositor of female extending little if any beyond apex of abdominal segment 10 (picture); labium extending rearward to middle of metacoxae at most (picture); total length usually < 30 mm; perminent or semi-perminent still marshy waters, often abundant - L. unguiculatus

7b. Ovipositor of female extending well beyond apex of abdominal segment 10 (picture); labium extending rearward beyond metacoxae, if not, total length usually >30mm (picture); common in temporary or semi-perminent ponds, less common in perminent marshy waters - L. dryas
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8a.(5b). Slender proximal part of prementum at most twice the length of the expanded distal part (picture) - 9

8b. Slender proximal part of prementum distinctly greater than twice the length of the expanded distal part, usually 2.5 times or greater (picture) - 10
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9a.(8a). Venter of abdominal segments 3-9 with a median row of paired, brown, elongate spots at posterior margins (picture); movable hook of palpal lobe about 4x as long as its middle width (picture); ovipositor of female extending only to apex of segment 10 (picture) - L. rectangularis

9b. Venter of abdominal without such paired spots (picture); movable hook of palpal lobe about 3x as long as its middle width (picture); ovipositor of female extending slightly beyond segment 10 (picture) - L. unguiculatus
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10a.(8b). Ovipositor of female extending to level of tips of cerci or beyond (picture) - L. forcipatus

10b. Ovipositor of female extending only to level of bases of cerci (picture) - L. disjunctus (slow streams, marshy lakes and bog ponds, prevalent on acid soils) and L. rectangularis (quiet permanent waters of shady streams)
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References

Corbet, P. S. 1962. A biology of dragonflies. H. F. & G. Witherby Ltd.: London. xvi + 247 pp.

Craves, J.A. 2006. Archilestes grandis (Rambur) (Odonata: Lestidae): new for Michigan. The Great Lakes Entomologist 39(1&2):88-90

Eriksen, C. H. 1984. The physiological ecology of larval Lestes disjunctus Selys (Zygoptera: Odonata). Freshwater Invertebrate Biology 3(3):105-117.

Fischer, Z. 1972. The energy budget of Lestes dryas Kirby (Odonata). Pol. Arch. Hydrobiol. 19:215-222.

Gloyd, L. K. 1980. The taxonomic status of the genera Superlestes and Cyptolestes Williamson 1921 (Odonata: Lestidae). Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 694:1-3.

Hagen, H. A. 1861. Synopsis of the Neuroptera of North America, with a list of the South American species. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 4:1-347.

Leach, W. E. 1815. Entomology, pp. 52-172. In Brewster's Edinburgh encyclopaedia. Vol. 9. Edinburgh.

Moskowitz, D. P., and D. M. Bell. 1998. Archilestes grandis (great spreadwing) in central New Jersey, with notes on water quality. Bulletin of American Odonatology 5(3):49-54.

O'Brien, M.F., J.A. Craves & D.S. O'Brien. 2016. Great Spreadwing (Archilestes grandis) in Michigan: More evidence for the potential role of restoration projects in range expansions. Argia 28(1):5-7.

Rambur, M. P. 1842. Histoire naturelle des insectes. Névroptères. (Suites à Buffon). Roret: Paris. 534 pp.

Say, T. 1839. Descriptions of new North American neuropterous insects and observations on some already described by (the late) Th. Say. Journal of the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia 8:9-46.

Selys-Longschamps, M. E. de. 1862. Synopsis des agrionines, seconde légion:Lestes.Bulletin de l'Académie royale des Sciences de Belgique (2)13:288-338 (reprint 1-54).

Walker, E. M. 1941. List of the Odonata of Ontario with distributional and seasonal data. Transactions of the Royal Canadian Institute 32(2):201-265.

Walker, E. M. 1953. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. 1. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, Ontario. 292 pp.

Walsh, B. D. 1862. List of the Pseudoneuroptera of Illinois contained in the cabinet of the writer, with descriptions of over forty new species, and notes on their structural affinities. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia 2:167-272.

Westfall, M. J., and M. L. May. 1996. Damselflies of North America. Scientific Publishers: Gainesville, Florida. x + 650 pp.

Westfall, M. J., and K. J. Tennessen. 1973. Description of the nymph ofLestes inaequalis (Odonata: Lestidae). The Florida Entomologist 56(4):291-293.

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