Fragile Beauty -- Dragonflies and Damselflies Are Like Nature's Glass Menagerie

First, the Dragonflies...

Dragonflies are very beautiful yet very fragile creatures. Their wings are like slivers of glass yet they propel them through the air with a grace and maneuverability unmatched by any other being except perhaps the hummingbird. I simply offer beauty here as I have before. Beauty in a slightly different, though still quite natural, form.

Here are some interesting dragonfly facts:

  • Dragonflies are strong fliers and have been clocked at over 30 miles per hour.
  • When at rest, dragonflies spread their wings behind them.
  • Dragonflies do not hunt when the temperature is cold.
  • Dragonflies eat mostly smaller insects such as flies and mosquitoes, moths and occasionally other dragonflies.
  • Dragonflies are considered predators but are also hunted by creatures such as birds, bats, frogs, lizards, spiders and, oh yeah... other dragonflies.
  • Dragonflies can live several years but only a few months of that time is spent as an adult dragonfly.

Here are some dragonfly myths:

  • Dragonflies were once called "snake doctors" because it was in the southern United States believed they followed snakes around healing their injuries and even bringing dead snakes back to life.
  • Dragonflies were once known as "the Devil's darning needles" because it was believed they would sew the lips of bad children together while they were sleeping.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

The Four-spotted Chaser is found in throughout Europe and Asia as well as in North Amrica where it is known as the Four-spotted Skimmer.
The Four-spotted Chaser is found in throughout Europe and Asia as well as in North Amrica where it is known as the Four-spotted Skimmer.

Apache Spiketail (Cordulegaster diadema)

The beautiful Apache Spiketail is found in the southwestern United States and extending down into Central America.
The beautiful Apache Spiketail is found in the southwestern United States and extending down into Central America.

Yellow-winged Darter (Sympetrum flaveolum)

Primarily found in Europe and large parts of China, the Yellow-winged Darter, they also migrate to Great Britain every few years.
Primarily found in Europe and large parts of China, the Yellow-winged Darter, they also migrate to Great Britain every few years.

Vagrant Darter (Sympetrum vulgatum)

Europe's Vagrant Darter gets it name from occasionally showing up further north than its usual territory.
Europe's Vagrant Darter gets it name from occasionally showing up further north than its usual territory.

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)

The Red-veined Darter is found in southern and central Europe as well as parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The Red-veined Darter is found in southern and central Europe as well as parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Tamaulipan Clubtail (Gomphus gonzalezi)

The Tamaulipan Clubtail is a rare dragonfly so far only seen in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and northern Mexico.
The Tamaulipan Clubtail is a rare dragonfly so far only seen in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and northern Mexico.

Black Clubtail (Hagenius brevistylus)

The Black Clubtail is the undisputed king of the dragonflies.
The Black Clubtail is the undisputed king of the dragonflies.
A Dragonhunter earning his name.
A Dragonhunter earning his name.

The Black Clubtail is also known as the Black Dragon. But perhaps more interestingly, it has a third name -- Dragonhunter. At almost 3 1/2 inches, the Dragonhunter is significantly larger than other North American dragonflies. It uses this size to its advantage, often attacking and eating smaller dragonflies as well as damselflies and even Monarch Butterflies! They have a reputation as ferocious hunters, often attacking prey from above.


Second, the Damselflies...

Damselflies are closely related to dragonflies but have some distinct differences, primarily in their wing structure and their eyes. Either is very beautiful, especially in flight. Like dragonflies, damselflies live most of their lives before they become adults, living only a few months at most in the adult stage. Beauty is such a fragile thing!

Here are some facts about damselflies:

  • When at rest, damselflies fold their wings behind their body.
  • Compared to dragonflies, damselflies are weak fliers.
  • Damselfly nymphs live in water but feed by climbing plants and eating other insects and their larvae.
  • Adult damselflies eat small insects such as flies and mosquitoes.
  • Unlike dragonflies, cold weather does not keep damselflies from hunting.
  • Some larger tropical damselflies will hover near a spider's web and pick the spider off to eat.

Large Red Damsel (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

Europe's Large Red Damsel is one of the first to emerge each year.
Europe's Large Red Damsel is one of the first to emerge each year.

Western Red Damsel (Amphiagrion abbreviatum )

The Western Red Damsel is a damselfly found in the western U.S. and Canada.
The Western Red Damsel is a damselfly found in the western U.S. and Canada.

Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)

The Ebony Jewelwing is found in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.
The Ebony Jewelwing is found in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

Vivid Dancer (Argia vivida)

The Vivid Dancer Damselfly (sometimes called the Vivid Blue Dancer Damselfly) became the official state insect of Nevada ion 2009.
The Vivid Dancer Damselfly (sometimes called the Vivid Blue Dancer Damselfly) became the official state insect of Nevada ion 2009.

Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis)

The Variable Dancer and closely related Violet Dancer are common in North America.
The Variable Dancer and closely related Violet Dancer are common in North America.

Smoky Rubyspot (Hetaerina titia)

The Smoky Rubyspot is a damselfly found throughout the eastern United States.
The Smoky Rubyspot is a damselfly found throughout the eastern United States.

American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana )

The American Rubyspot is a damselfly that is found in a large part of North America.
The American Rubyspot is a damselfly that is found in a large part of North America.

How to tell the difference between a drgonfly and a damselfly...

FEATURE
DRAGONFLY
DAMSELFLY
WINGS
Front wings different than back wings
All wings the same.
RESTING POSITION
Wings open
Wings closed
EYES
Very close together or touching
Widely seperated

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Comments 2 comments

tsadjatko profile image

tsadjatko 5 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

Can't see many of your pics but good hub! I've noticed this year in 90 degree weather as I sit in a grocery store parking lot, dragonflies appear to be trying to lay eggs and I've seen some coupled together mating and behaving like they are trying to lay eggs or touch the hoods of silver cars as if it was water - I wonder if the heat of summer is a cause of this activity because I have never noticed it before and they were everywhere in the parking lot - maybe their lake dried up?


A M Lehrer profile image

A M Lehrer 5 years ago from Southern United States

I love this! I especially enjoy the beauty of nature, all the little creatures! Totally amazing...and I never knew there was such a things as a damselfly. How Beautiful!

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