Dragonflies and Damselflies

Odontata

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Dragonflies and damselflies are commonly found in shallow, non-flowing waterbodies like ponds and wetlands.

  • Diet

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

  • Lifespan

    Nymphs last up to seven years, while the adults can also live for multiple years.
  • Status

    Stable

Dragonflies and damselflies are commonly found in shallow, non-flowing bodies of water like ponds and wetlands.

Appearance

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. 

Feeding

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

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, Odonata are said to undergo an "incomplete" or "gradual" metamorphosis.

Did You Know?

  • The Odonata 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.
  • Odonates 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

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Dragonflies and damselflies are commonly found in shallow, non-flowing waterbodies like ponds and wetlands.

  • Diet

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

  • Lifespan

    Nymphs last up to seven years, while the adults can also live for multiple years.
  • Status

    Stable