Archilestes californica (California Spreadwing)

Male Archilestes californica (California Spreadwing)

This is the largest (total length 45-50mm) spreadwing damselfly in our region, and is identifiable on that basis alone. It has a white thoracic stripe bordered by black or dark brown stripes. The abdomen is brown. Males have blue eyes and pruinosity on S9-10. Females lack pruinosity, have a bulbous abdominal tip, and have dull blue to brown eyes. The overall impression is a big, dull brown damselfly.

Female Archilestes californica

I don’t find Archilestes californica very often. Maybe I just don’t haunt the fishless and willow lined ponds they prefer. But I did once find a massive quantity of California Spreadwings that seemed to have recently emerged. There were hundreds of them! Every step through the grass and weeds flushed several, and the concrete retaining wall abutting the thoroughfare was densely speckled with them. I wandered around in amazement, laughing with joy when they would alight on my arms and shirt. 

Female California Spreadwing

This was at a little spring fed pocket wetland near a medical center, and I often killed time there waiting for my clients to finish their medical appointments. One day I found 14 species of Odonata in an area that was less than the size of our apartment!

Male Archilestes californica (California Spreadwing)

Winter came, my coverage area shifted, and I didn’t visit that spot for nearly a year. And when I did I discovered that during the intervening months developers had filled that sweet little wetland and built a f*^%#}g Walgreens on top of it. I was both livid and heartbroken. And I’ve never seen a concentration of California Spreadwings like that again.

Female appendages of Archilestes californica

Size- TL 45-50 mm

Habitat- Slow, fishless waters with willows and other emergent vegetation 

Range- Region wide, less common further north and probably introduced in the Seattle area. 

Eats- Whatever it can catch

Flight Season- Mid summer to late fall

Archilestes californica (California Spreadwing)

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