Dragonflies & Damselflies (Odonata)

Greek "odonto" (tooth) - because they have teeth on their mandibles
Dragonflies and damselflies have a long and slender abdomen, short antennae, and two pairs of membranous wings with many crosshatched veins. They can be quite large and may be brilliantly colored, and they have compound eyes. They are very fast and agile in flight, which allows them to catch the prey they eat -- flying insects such as gnats and mosquitos. Dragonflies and damselflies lay their eggs in water, which hatch into naiads that breathe underwater using gills in their rectums (dragonflies) or at the end of their abdomens (damselflies). Naiads eat all manner of organisms in the water, including small crustaceans, nymphs of other insects, mollusks, and even small fish and tadpoles.

Is it a Damselfly or a Dragonfly?    Keep Going

click for enlargement
Vivid Dancer Dragonfly
© 2005 Joyce Gross
click for enlargement
Flame Skimmer Dragonfly
© 2003 BonTerra Consulting
click for enlargement
Pygmy Damselfly
© 2007 Lars L. Iversen


Quick ID

  • Long thin body
  • Long slender wings
  • Short antennae

More information about Odonata

University of California, Berkeley    Berkeley Natural History Museums
Copyright © 1995-2010 UC Regents. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated: Jan 2, 2017