Sussex Dragonfly Group

Scarce Emerald Damselfly (Scarce Green Lestes or Robust Spreadwing)
Lestes dryas Kirby, 1890
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Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Lestidae

Scarce Emerald Damselfly
(Scarce Green Lestes or Robust Spreadwing)
Lestes dryas

Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Lestidae

This rare species of Emerald damselfly was once a breeding species in the east of the county but with only a few records since its disappearance in 1947, this species is very unlikely to be encountered.

Lestes dryas
1 / 4
female
Photo: Dave Sadler
Lestes dryas
2 / 4
male
Photo: Dave Sadler
Lestes dryas
3 / 4

Photo: Dave Sadler
Lestes dryas
4 / 4
male
Photo: Dave Sadler

National status
This rare and local species is classified as vulnerable by the UK statutory conservation agencies. It is listed under Category 2 (vulnerable) in the British Red Data Book on Insects.

In Britain the species has strongholds on the coastal and estuarine marshes of Essex and North Kent and in the Norfolk Brecklands. There are also a few scattered colonies at other locations in East Anglia ( BDS website).

Status in Sussex
This is the only breeding species known to have disappeared from Sussex. It was last recorded at Powdermill Reservoir by N. Moore on 11 August 1947 only seven years after its discovery. On 5 August 1940, he had found it on the Rother marshes near Bodiam (Hastings & East Sussex Naturalist, HESN) and there then followed regular reports by him and H. Attlee from Whatlington, Sedlescombe and Brede to the Rye coastal plain. By 1947 reports of this species had dwindled, partly because neither Moore nor Attlee continued to submit records to HESN. In 1978 Moore re-visited all the sites where he had previously found this species, but had no further sightings (Moore 1980). Chelmick (1979), with similar results in the 1965-1978 survey, declared this species extinct in Sussex. There has been one subsequent record, an adult female on 26 July 2006 at Rye Harbour seen by Chris Bentley, though there have been records from Scotney Castle which although inside the modern county boundary of Kent lies within the Watsonian vice-county of East Sussex.

Distribution at 1km scale

Lestes dryas distribution (all)
Lestes dryas distribution pre 1980
Lestes dryas distribution 1980 - 1989
Lestes dryas distribution 1990 - 1999
Lestes dryas distribution 2000 - 2009
Lestes dryas distribution 2010 - 2019
Lestes dryas distribution 2010 on

Flight times
Mid June - Late August with a peak at the end of June.

Phenology (adult)

Lestes dryas phenology (all)
Lestes dryas phenology pre 1980
Lestes dryas phenology 1980 - 1989
Lestes dryas phenology 1990 - 1999
Lestes dryas phenology 2000 - 2009
Lestes dryas phenology 2010 - 2019
Lestes dryas phenology 2010 on

Habitat
Usually found within the dense vegetation of shallow pools and drainage channels. On the coastal and estuarine marshes in Kent and Essex populations also use the borrow dykes as well as ditches and marsh pools where they show a tolerance of brackish water. Breeding sites are well vegetated with submerged and emergent vegetation ( BDS website).

Conservation
The BDS website lists over-abstraction, eutrophication, over-grazing, climate change resulting in drought / coastal flooding and lack of management leading to successional habitat change as threats to this species where it occurs.

Similar species
The potential confusion species are discussed under Emerald Damselfly (where there is a photographic comparison). It is only identified from Emerald Damselfly given close and detailed observation.

This rare species of Emerald damselfly was once a breeding species in the east of the county but with only a few records since its disappearance in 1947, this species is very unlikely to be encountered.

Lestes dryas
1 / 4
female
Photo: Dave Sadler
Lestes dryas
2 / 4
male
Photo: Dave Sadler
Lestes dryas
3 / 4

Photo: Dave Sadler
Lestes dryas
4 / 4
male
Photo: Dave Sadler

National status
This rare and local species is classified as vulnerable by the UK statutory conservation agencies. It is listed under Category 2 (vulnerable) in the British Red Data Book on Insects.

In Britain the species has strongholds on the coastal and estuarine marshes of Essex and North Kent and in the Norfolk Brecklands. There are also a few scattered colonies at other locations in East Anglia ( BDS website).

Status in Sussex
This is the only breeding species known to have disappeared from Sussex. It was last recorded at Powdermill Reservoir by N. Moore on 11 August 1947 only seven years after its discovery. On 5 August 1940, he had found it on the Rother marshes near Bodiam (Hastings & East Sussex Naturalist, HESN) and there then followed regular reports by him and H. Attlee from Whatlington, Sedlescombe and Brede to the Rye coastal plain. By 1947 reports of this species had dwindled, partly because neither Moore nor Attlee continued to submit records to HESN. In 1978 Moore re-visited all the sites where he had previously found this species, but had no further sightings (Moore 1980). Chelmick (1979), with similar results in the 1965-1978 survey, declared this species extinct in Sussex. There has been one subsequent record, an adult female on 26 July 2006 at Rye Harbour seen by Chris Bentley, though there have been records from Scotney Castle which although inside the modern county boundary of Kent lies within the Watsonian vice-county of East Sussex.

Distribution at 1km scale

Lestes dryas distribution (all)
Lestes dryas distribution bre 1980
Lestes dryas distribution 1980 - 1989
Lestes dryas distribution 1990 - 1999
Lestes dryas distribution 2000 - 2009
Lestes dryas distribution 2010 - 2019
Lestes dryas distribution 2020 on

Flight times
Mid June - Late August with a peak at the end of June.

Phenology (adult)

Lestes dryas phenology (all)
Lestes dryas phenology pre 1980
Lestes dryas phenology 1980 - 1989
Lestes dryas phenology 1990 - 1999
Lestes dryas phenology 2000 - 2009
Lestes dryas phenology 2010 - 2019
Lestes dryas phenology 2020 on

Habitat
Usually found within the dense vegetation of shallow pools and drainage channels. On the coastal and estuarine marshes in Kent and Essex populations also use the borrow dykes as well as ditches and marsh pools where they show a tolerance of brackish water. Breeding sites are well vegetated with submerged and emergent vegetation ( BDS website).

Conservation
The BDS website lists over-abstraction, eutrophication, over-grazing, climate change resulting in drought / coastal flooding and lack of management leading to successional habitat change as threats to this species where it occurs.

Similar species
The potential confusion species are discussed under Emerald Damselfly (where there is a photographic comparison). It is only identified from Emerald Damselfly given close and detailed observation.