Damselfly Damselflies

There are hundreds and hundreds of known species of the damselfly. This insect is found flying and living all over the world near shallow waters like ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. Similar to the dragonfly, the damselfly is brightly colored with four large wings that are mostly clear with either red or black coloration. At the end of their membranous wings there is a spot, which is called a stigma.

A damselfly has a long thin body that comes in a wide array of colors such as blue, green, red, yellow, brown, and black. Their bulging eyes sit atop oblong heads that sport short antennae. Although they are often mistaken for dragonflies, damselflies have one particular difference which is quite noticeable. This visual difference found in the wings. Damselflies have the ability to fold their wings back whereas dragonflies cannot. Also, damselflies have smaller, finer bodily features than a dragonfly who is a bit larger.

While alive, the damselfly eats a variety of insects and arthropods within their habitat. Immature damselflies cannot swim very well and are found living among the vegetation at the bottom of ponds and streams. There, they eat underwater insects and anything similar that they can find in their aquatic environment. As adults, the damselfly captures prey while they fly. This is done with their hind legs which have small hairs that cling to other flying insects.

The damselfly will complete a life cycle every one or two years, usually while flying over shallow water. Upon the adults mating, the female will lay her eggs just below the surface of the water on vegetation. Since damselflies do not go through the larval and pupal stages, they will begin their life as a nymph. Living in the water, this small insect will go through several molts and then eventually make their way to plantlife on the shore. There they will molt one last time before transforming into an adult.

Most often damselflies will not mature in time for the approaching winter, so they will migrate to deeper water. After reaching deeper waters, the damselfly will hibernate until warmer weather comes. When spring arrives they will migrate back to shallow waters, but, unfortunately, during migration many damselflies are eaten. Adult damselflies will then emerge in spring, summer, or autumn. They are diurnal, meaning that they fly during the daytime. Also, they live for a few weeks up to a month or more before they start their life cycle all over again.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica, www.ucmp.berkley.edu