11. Dark Spreadwing – Lestes macrostigma – European Dragonfly photo
The Dark Spreadwing (Lestes macrostigma) is an important species as it has declined rapidly in recent times. This is largely due to the inexorable destruction of its specialised habitat, namely brackish shallow waters with extensive saltmarsh rush vegetation which mainly occurs along coasts. The wholesale destruction of such habitat to make way for hotels, apartments, restaurants and salt works makes it vital to conserve such sites as Lithi Marsh on Chios, Greece shown below where it is still abundant. I found over one hundred breeding pairs in a very short stretch of ditch here. Inland in similar brackish waters the success of breeding populations can fluctuate naturally anyway depending upon the sites either not drying out totally or becoming flooded with excess rains.
KEY I/D FEATURES :
Both sexes have very dark bodies due to the deep purple pruinosity. They never appear all bronze or emerald green as in other Lestes species. This is another large member of the family with a long pterostigma which quickly changes from brown in tenerals to black with perhaps a thin white border at each end.