A dragonfly and a damselfly resting on reed stems

Damselflies and dragonflies

Damselflies and dragonflies are among the most beautiful and spectacular insects. They are also among the most ancient of creatures and, millions of years ago, included some of the largest flying invertebrates ever. Odonates are carnivorous in both nymph and adult forms, with a large appetite for smaller insects. Their lives are closely tied to fresh water as the nymphs are at least semi-aquatic. Dragonflies can be distinguished from damselflies by larger eyes, that usually touch, different shaped fore- and hindwings which they hold horizontally when at rest and by their more powerful flight. Damselflies have similar shaped wings which they hold close to the body when resting.

Scientific name: Odonata

Rank: Order

Common names:

Odonates

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Explore this group

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Damselflies and dragonflies distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Behaviours

Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Fossil types

Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.

Amber Amber
Amber owes its existence to the defence mechanisms of certain kinds of tree. When the bark is punctured or infected, a sticky resin oozes out to seal the damage and sterilise the area.

Classification

  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Arthropods
  4. Insects
  5. Damselflies and dragonflies

BBC News about Damselflies and dragonflies

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

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