Dragonflies & Damselflies

The Odonata are typically split into 3 suborders : Zygoptera (damselflies), Anisoptera (dragonflies) and the Anisozygoptera (which contains only 2 Asian species and is not illustrated here).  Recognising which of the two main suborders an individual belongs to is generally quite easy and although there are a few exceptions to the rule, a quick glance at the resting wing posture, the separation of the eyes and the shape of the base of the hindwing will usually suffice.


Damselflies are quite dainty-looking insects and usually hold their wings folded back along their body when at rest.  There are, of course, exceptions.  For example, members of the genus Lestes rest with their wings held half-open.  Other distinguishing features include the base of their hindwings having a similar shape to their forewings and widely separated eyes.


Dragonflies are generally larger and more robust-looking than Damselflies.  They hold their wings spread out when at rest and their hindwings have a much wider base than their forewings.  Their eyes are also much larger and envelop their head, usually touching each other at the top.