Enjoy this selection of photos with some of the most spectacular species of dragonflies and damselflies on the planet.
Dragonflies are fascinating insects that, because of their striking colors and their elegance when flying, are attractive to many people. They are harmless to humans and in addition, many of them are beneficial since they feed on insects capable of forming pests.
Difference between dragonfly and damselfly
Although we often talk about dragonflies in general, the truth is that within this fascinating group that are the odonates there are two suborders: Anisoptera (dragonflies) and Zygoptera ( damselflies ). In addition to the fact that dragonflies tend to be larger, one of the most visible differences is found in the wings: in dragonflies the rear pair of wings is larger than the front pair, while in horsemen the two pairs of wings are of the Same size. Furthermore, the latter fold their wings against the abdomen when perching, whereas dragonflies do not. On the other hand, dragonflies’ eyes are larger than damselflies and are closer together.
Odonates are amphibian insects, and this means that they develop part of their life cycle in water (when they are larvae), while they carry out adult life in air or water. They are all hunters, and as we have already mentioned, their main prey are other insects, although some large larvae can feed on tadpoles or even small fish .
Odonates have a very peculiar mode of reproduction, with indirect insemination and delayed fertilization, for which the male transfers the sperm from the end of his abdomen, where he produces it, to an area located at the base of the same that is called secondary genitalia. , from where the female is often inseminated (other times the eggs are fertilized at the time of laying). In this way , spectacular behaviors are observed, such as the heart-shaped ‘copulatory wheel’ or the flights of the males over the female to monitor the moment of laying and prevent other rivals from fertilizing the eggs first.
The life of dragonflies and damselflies is strongly linked to wetlands : ponds, ponds, lagoons, rivers … any of these places is good for observing odonata, although the degradation of these habitats as a result of human activity is also causing that some species of dragonflies and damselflies are more threatened today than ever.
(Much of the information on dragonflies and damselflies in this gallery has been obtained from Ediciones Omega’s Dragonflies Field Guide in Spain and Europe)
One of the most characteristic features of this species of dragonfly is the presence of black stripes on the outside of the wings. Males, like the one in the photo, have a red abdomen.
This is a species of dragonfly native to western North America that is very striking because its entire body is red or orange, including eyes, legs and even the veins in its wings.
In this photo you can see the copulatory wheel of a couple belonging to this species of damselfly that can be seen throughout Europe.
This species of dragonfly impresses mainly by its size, which can reach 8 cm in length and a wingspan of 12 cm. Also, most individuals have a blue abdomen. It is very common in Africa and part of Eurasia.
This beautiful species from tropical Africa is unmistakable for its throbbing flight and the coloring of its body. Also, this dragonfly is a migrant.
This European species that prefers stagnant waters is one of the earliest and in the south of Spain it can be seen even from March.
This species of damselfly is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and France.
This species of dragonfly is common in tropical Africa and Asia.
This is a very striking dragonfly of great length (between 7 and 8 centimeters) that has migratory tendencies. Its distribution is discontinuous: from central Asia through the Middle East and up to the Mediterranean basin.
This European species is very well recognized by its yellow and black stripes. It inhabits mountain streams and rivers with transparent and well oxygenated waters.
In addition to its striking colors, one of the most striking aspects of this species of dragonfly is the behavior of the males, who aggressively defend their territory and often control an entire pond, chasing and expelling their competitors.
This species of European dragonfly lives in peat bogs , ponds, lakes and mountain ponds.
This spectacular pink dragonfly is native to America, where its distribution extends from the United States to Brazil.