Dragonflies and Damselflies

Order Odonata

Dragonfly Page | Damselfly Page | Home Page

Suborder Anisoptera

Aeshnidae Family
Gomphidae Family
Corduliidae Family
Libellulidae Family

Suborder Zygoptera

Broad-winged Damsels
Calopterygidae Family
Spreadwing Damsels
Lestidae Family
Pond Damsels
Coenagrionidae Family

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Dragonflies and damselflies are a silent but omnipresent part of the Nebraska summer landscape, especially around ponds and streams. Recently there has been a huge surge of interest in these winged insects, which captivate watchers with their beautiful colors, unmatched symmetry, and astonishing flying skills. They do not sting, their bite is very mild and they consume vast numbers of pest insects, such as mosquitoes. Their ability to capture flying prey on the wing and to avoid predation by birds is impressive to watch.

Jade & Skimming
Jade Clubtail and Skimming Bluet
Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant female

There are about 100 species of dragonflies and damselflies that can be found in Nebraska. Dragonflies are generally larger and more robust than damselflies, and they hold their wings open flat. They are strong flyers and can both hover and fly backwards. Dragonflies have eyes which are large and, in most families, close together. The hindwings of a dragonfly are wider at the base than the forewings. Nebraska dragonflies are grouped into the following families: Darners, Clubtails, Emeralds and Skimmers.

Damselflies are much more delicate than most dragonflies and are often found "grazing" on vegetation rather than taking prey on the wing. They are weak flyers that stay close to the ground or surface of the water. In contrast to dragonflies, damselflies (except for the Spreadwing family) hold their wings folded together over their backs. Nebraska damselflies are grouped into the following families: Broad-winged Damsels, Spreadwings, and Pond Damsels.

Azure Bluet
Azure Bluet male

Thank you to Ann Johnson, Loren and Babs Padelford, Jim Bangma, Jim Durbin and Doug Danforth for the use of their photographs,
to Ann for advice and encouragement and to Roy Beckemeyer and Fred Sibley for the use of their Nebraska databases.
Also thanks to Loren and Babs for introducing my husband Don and me to the study of odonates.
This site was designed and developed by Janis Paseka. Last updated Oct. 2, 2009.

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