The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 189 Odonate species

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Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Related Species in LESTIDAE: Number of records for 2024 = 2
Added in 2024 from a previous years = 2

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e.g., flight data, high counts, and earliest/latest dates can be seen.
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Elegant Spreadwing (Lestes inaequalis) by Mike Turner
Compare with: Amber-winged Spreadwing   Swamp Spreadwing  
Identification Tips: Move the cursor over the image, or tap the image if using a mobile device, to reveal ID Tips.
Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Elegant Spreadwing
Flight Charts
Distribution Throughout the Coastal Plain -- except perhaps absent along parts of the immediate coast -- westward to the central Piedmont; thus, the eastern half of the state, plus scattered in the western Piedmont (two recent county records) and mountains (six county records). Interestingly, Paulson's (2011) range map shows the entire state within the range, as the species is present throughout the eastern half of the country. A recent (2018) sight record, of five individuals, from Alleghany County is the only record for the northwestern quarter of the state.
Abundance Uncommon over the eastern Piedmont and most of the Coastal Plain, and likely is rare in many areas close to the coast (where there are no records for most counties that border the coast). Rare in the southern mountains, but absent to very rare over the northern mountains and the western Piedmont.
Flight The flight period in both the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont is from early May to late September or early October. The relatively few mountain records fall between mid-May and mid-September.
Habitat Ponds and lakes with emergent vegetation, including marshes. It also occurs along slow-moving streams, as long as marshy vegetation is present.

See also Habitat Account for General Pond Shorelines
Behavior Despite its large size, the species is rather inconspicuous amid often fairly dense vegetation along and near a pond or lake shore. It can often be inactive until afternoon and remain in somewhat shaded places.
Comments The scarcity of recent records in the northern Coastal Plain is puzzling. Perhaps it is being overlooked, but there are also few biologists currently working in this half of the Coastal Plain, especially on damselflies.
State Rank S4
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-17 13:18:08

Photo Gallery for Elegant Spreadwing   17 photos are shown. Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2024-07-03, Swamp creek 2 miles SE of Clarkton, NC - 1:30PM in vegetation at edge of creek
Photo 2 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2024-05-25, Mixed hardwood swamp, 2miles SE of Clarkton, NC - 2:53PM in vegetation at edge of creek
Photo 3 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Wake, 2023-07-21, Harris Lake County Park - female
Photo 4 by: Lori Owenby

Comment: Catawba, 2021-05-08, 6700 NC 16, Conover; iNaturalist Record #77981976
Photo 5 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Jackson, 2020-08-26
Photo 6 by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger

Comment: Scotland, 2020-06-08, Scotland Lake
Photo 7 by: B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger

Comment: Scotland, 2020-06-08, Scotland Lake
Photo 8 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Transylvania, 2018-06-27, Gorges State Park (GORG) - female at Raymond Fisher Pond. First record for county.
Photo 9 by: Barbara McRae

Comment: Macon, 2018-05-15, Franklin, Little Tennessee River, wetland near Greenway - female
Photo 10 by: Barbara McRae

Comment: Macon, 2018-05-13, Franklin, Little Tennessee River, wetland near Greenway - Immature male; ID’d from cerci detail.
Photo 11 by: John Petranka, Jim Petranka

Comment: Buncombe, 2016-06-06, Sandy Bottom Preserve, near junction of NC Hwy. 191 and Parkway Crescent Pond area. 2 males; 1 mature, 1 teneral.
Photo 12 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Jones, 2015-07-12, Brock Millpond, Trenton
Photo 13 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Orange, 2013-06-29, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area - males; lower pond
Photo 14 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Onslow, 2012-09-04 - Male found in temporary pool along Cowhorn Creek
Photo 15 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Wake, 2012-08-03, Lake Raleigh - 1 each male and female (male photographed)
Photo 16 by: Paul Scharf

Comment: Warren, 2009-07-15 - female, Hubquarter Creek, Lake Gaston
Photo 17 by: Paul Scharf

Comment: Warren, 2009-07-15 - female, Hubquarter Creek, Lake Gaston. Same individual as in previous photo. Comment from Dennis Paulson: "Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between L. vigilax and L. inaequalis. One of the field marks is the underside of the ovipositor, dark in inaequalis and pale in vigilax. From that alone, yours should be inaequalis. Another field mark is that inaequalis has the outer side of the tibiae pale, and that is evident in the front leg on the side view. L. inaequalis often has a brighter metallic green thorax than vigilax."