Dragonflies have huge wraparound eyes and flat, wide airplane wings at rest, while damselflies are daintier, with space between their eyes and wings demurely folded on their slender bodies at rest.


Both are predatory and hunt a variety of prey including other small fish, tadpoles and other aquatic insects.


Birds, spiders and most amphibians such as newts, frogs and toads eat dragonflies and damselflies.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Most of a dragonfly's life is spent in the larval stage where it molts from six to fifteen times. Larval development varies from one or two years (most common) to as many as six years. During that process, the nymph crawls up out of the water and molts one last time, emerging from its old skin as an adult with functional wings.

Unlike other insects, dragonflies and damselflies do not have an intermediate pupal stage before becoming an adult. Because of this, they are said to undergo an "incomplete" or "gradual" metamorphosis.

Did You Know?

  • The dragonflies and damselflies are known to be ancient insects. The earliest fossils so far discovered come from Upper Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) sediments in Europe formed about 325 million years ago.
  • Dragonflies and damselflies are popular with both the amateur and professional naturalists because they are large, colorful, easily observable and have exceptionally charismatic behaviors.
  • They have well-developed, movable lower jaws to snatch prey as it swims by.

Sources and Additional Information