Description male female larva Irish distribution

Lestes sponsa

Lestes sponsa (Hansemann, 1823)


Common name: Emerald Damselfly

Preferred environment: sheltered mesotrophic to eutrophic pools and small lakes, slow flowing rivers and brackish sites.

Flight period: mid-June to October. Mid-June to mid-September in Ireland.

Adult habitat and habits: adults rest in lush vegetation near breeding site. Pairs form also in surrounding vegetation.

Oviposition site and behaviour: pairs arrive at breeding site in tandem. Females lay eggs in tandem by inserting them in plant stems. Eggs can be laid above water level or to level at which both sexes are completely submerged.

Larval habitat and habits: eggs go through diapause and hatch in spring and most complete growth and emerge in same summer. Larvae are active predators swimming after prey which is predominantly micro-crustaceans with smaller amounts of insect larvae.

Range: central and northern Europe. Mostly absent from Iberia, Italy and SE Europe and northern Fennoscandia. Across Asia to Japan. Widespread throughout Ireland.

Determination of adults: species is keyed and diagnostic characters are figured in Askew (1988). Adults of both sexes are illustrated in colour in Askew (1988) and Brooks (1997).

Determination of larvae: keys to mature larvae in Askew (1988) and Brooks (1997). Photograph of mature larva in Brooks (1997).


Nelson, B., Thompson, R. & Morrow, C., 2000 (May 2). [In] DragonflyIreland http://www.ulstermuseum.org.uk/dragonflyireland/


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