The above photo (by Rob Dickinson) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.
Lestes virgatus is a species of damselfly in the family Lestidae, the spreadwings. It is known commonly as the Smoky Spreadwing.
Length up to 49mm; Wingspan attains 58mm.
Males can be differentiated from other Spreadwings by the bronze-green thorax stripes, swollen pterostigmas with dark outlines and smoky yellow wings.
Females are similar but are duller. They have more robust abdomens than the males, and lack the pruinose terminal segments and the distinctive claspers.
Could be confused with a Malachite (Chlorolestes spp.), but can be immediately recognised by its Blue eyes (Malachites have green or brownish eyes), and pale centered pterostigmas.
It occurs at well vegetated pans, pools and swamps with forested or wooded fringes. Favours ponds with rich vegetation particularly tall grasses and forbs. Frequents areas of high rainfall above 700mm per year.
Hangs vertically from a grass or reed stem when at rest. Spends long periods perched and is generally sluggish and unwilling to fly. The females can be found alongside the males.
Status and Conservation
Lestes virgatus is locally common over most of its range. It is listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Smoky Spreadwing is moderately sensitive to habitat degradation and commonly occurs at suitable man-made habitats.
It is native to much of Southern and Eastern Africa, where it is widespread. It extends from Ethiopia in the north down South Africa. There is also a seemingly isolated population in Nigeria.
Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Smoky Spreadwing in the OdonataMAP database as at February 2020.
The next map below is an imputed map, produced by an interpolation algorithm, which attempts to generate a full distribution map from the partial information in the map above. This map will be improved by the submission of records to the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum.
Ultimately we will produce a series of maps for all the odonata species in the region. The current algorithm is a new algorithm. The objective is mainly to produce “smoothed” maps that could go into a field guide for odonata. This basic version of the algorithm (as mapped above) does not make use of “explanatory variables” (e.g. altitude, terrain roughness, presence of freshwater — we will be producing maps that take these variables into account soon). Currently, it only makes use of the OdonataMAP records for the species being mapped, as well as all the other records of all other species. The basic maps are “optimistic” and will generally show ranges to be larger than what they probably are.
These maps use the data in the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum, and also the database assembled by the previous JRS funded project, which was led by Professor Michael Samways and Dr KD Dijkstra.