Difference Between Dragonfly and Damselfly

During summer, alongside other insects, we see an abundance of dragonflies representing an attractive, ancient-looking, vibrant, and widespread species of predacious insects.


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However, in real life, the real dragonflies are not the only representatives of the insect group Odonata. Due to its comparable biological categorization and resemblance to dragonflies, it additionally includes a connatural group known as damselflies.

Three hundred million-year-old fossil discoveries show how dragonflies and damselflies were amongst the giant winged invertebrates that wandered the globe and how they later evolved into present-day species.

Some species of Dragonflies and damselflies usually prevail in tropical zones and can likewise be observed in almost every portion of the globe apart from the frigid zones.

Around the globe, about 5900 species of Odonata (out of which approximately 2600 species are damselflies and 3000 species are dragonflies), with about 500 species observed in India.

Key Takeaways

  1. Dragonflies and damselflies are insects belonging to Odonata; dragonflies are part of the suborder Anisoptera, while damselflies belong to the suborder Zygoptera.
  2. Dragonflies have larger, sturdier bodies and hold their wings perpendicular to their bodies at rest; damselflies have slender bodies and hold their wings parallel to their bodies at rest.
  3. Both dragonflies and damselflies are predators, feeding on insects like mosquitoes, and are indicators of a healthy ecosystem due to their sensitivity to water quality.

Dragonfly vs Damselfly

The difference between dragonflies and damselfly is that Dragonflies often have a broad and stubby bodies, eyes connect each other at a certain point, the front set of wings are comparatively more significant than the hinder set of wings, and while resting, the wings are held in an upright position. In contrast, Damselflies have slender and lengthened bodies, the eyes do not connect at a certain point, both sets of wings are collectively identical in structure and width, and while resting, the wings are nuzzled at the side of their body.

Dragonfly vs Dameselfly

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Dragonflies and damselflies are pretty similar and could perhaps appear as twins, for they are both unmistakably quick, tend to eat insects, are easy to spot, breed in freshwater (may even include waterfalls or standing water), are expert hunters, have surprisingly mesmerizing characteristics, great flying and aerobatic ability, deepwater larvae, and a captivating life process.

They are helpful to people as well. Adult Odonatas possess exceedingly strong jaws, forelimbs, and two sets of wings to capture many harmful insects like mosquitoes and other flies that cause dangerous insect-borne diseases.

Even so, detailed observation establishes precise indications/hints that even amateurs can use to highlight the differences between a dragonfly and a damselfly.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDragonflyDamselfly
DefinitionDragonflies are of the sub-order Anisoptera, and they are long-bodied insects with four transparent wings that are spread upright along the side of their bodies when they rest.Damselflies are of the sub-order Zygoptera and are slender insects with wings folded at the rear of their body when they rest.
Wing shape and sizeThe wings of a dragonfly are unequal in size and shape. The shape of the wing is broader.The wings of a damselfly are equal in size and shape. The shape of the wing is narrower.
Eye shapeThe eyes of the dragonfly are more prominent as the eyes cover the majority of its head.The eyes of the damselfly are large but there is a certain amount of space between them.
LarvaeTo respirate in deep water, the larvae of the dragonfly use rectal tracheal gills.To respirate in deep water, the larvae of the damselfly use caudal gills.
FlightDragonflies are known as fliers and travel a longer distance.Damselflies are known as perchers and travel short distances.
ThoraxThe thorax of the dragonfly is broader than the abdomen.The thorax of the damselfly is narrower than the abdomen.


What is Dragonfly?

Dragonflies, also known as devil’s arrow or darner, are swift flying insects with two pairs of transparent wings belonging to Odonata and sub-order Anisoptera.

They are additionally considered to have long bodies and sometimes hued patches on their bodies. The wing of the dragonfly is shaped differently. The wingspan of the dragonfly is 16cm. A dragonfly’s eyes have 24000 ommatidia each.

Dragonflies vary in hues and are predators. Dragonflies, like any other insects, have three segments, i.e., the head, thorax, and abdomen.

The fossils of large dragonflies called Protodonata were found 325 million years ago. There are presently 3000 species of dragonflies globally ranging from 20mm to 16cm, and they are further classified into 348 genera in 11 families.

Some of the most common dragonfly species are hawker, migrant hawker, broad-bodied chaser, common darter, etc. Dragonflies mainly feed on mosquitoes, moths, and even smaller dragonflies.

Dragonflies are said to spend several years of their life in the larvae stage and are known as nymphs. Nymphs feed on tadpoles or smaller fish. Spirits sometimes prefer flowing water or standing water.

Male dragonflies are considered territorial and shield their domains from other insects. Dragonflies reproduce by indirect insemination, sperm competition, and delayed fertilization.

The female dragonflies reproduce 1500 eggs at a time. Most dragonflies live in the tropical, and very few live in the temperate zones. Dragonflies live on every continent except in Antarctica.

The altitudinal limit of dragonflies is 3700m. Dragonflies can fly up to a speed of 97 km/h, and their life expectancy is approximately six months.


What is Damselfly?

Damselfly refers to a slender insect which belongs to the order Odonata and sub-order Zygoptera. Damselflies are comparatively more minor and fold their wing when resting. The size damselflies two pairs of wings are the same size and shape.

The wingspan of a damselfly is 19cm, and the length of the body is 13cm. Damselflies came into origin almost 251 million years ago.

Approximately 2600 species of damselflies range from 18mm to 19cm. Damselflies are additionally considered predatory species. Male damselflies are considered more colourful than female damselflies.

Damselflies also reproduce using direct insemination and delayed fertilization. The eyes of the damselfly are widely separated rather than being close together, unlike that of a dragonfly.

Damselflies also live on every continent except in Antarctica. Adult damselflies eat flies and other smaller insects. Damselflies have a weak flight. Damselflies mostly stay near water surfaces.

Some of the most common damselflies species are the blue-tailed damselfly, red damselfly, emerald damselfly, etc.

Immature damselflies known as larvae or nymphs are aquatic and mostly stay near water bodies like lakes or ponds. And after the larvae stage, the damselfly emerges from the water and flies to either feed or mate.

Damselflies can fly at a speed of 10 mph. The life span of a damselfly is approximately two months to 3 years.


Main Differences Between Dragonfly and Damselfly

  1. Dragonflies are predatory insects with long bodies, and they have wings at the side of their bodies when they rest. Damselflies are more petite, slender, and delicate insects with wings at the rear of their body when they sleep.
  2. Dragonflies have a broader front set of wings and not a similar shape and size of fore and hind wings. Damselflies have a narrower and similar shape and size of both fore and rear wings.
  3. The eyes of the dragonfly are broadly rounded eyes and their eyes touch the top of their head. The eyes of a damselfly are spherical, and their eyes lie flat on their head.
  4. The young dragonfly, also known as larvae, breathes from the rectal tracheal gills because the dragonfly bodies are more extensive and thick. The immature damselfly, known as larvae, respire from the caudal gills because the bodies are slender and lean.
  5. The dragonfly travels significant distances and can fly at 60 miles per hour; hence they are called fliers. The damselfly can travel only short distances and fly 10 miles per hour; hence they are called perchers.
  6. The dragonfly has a broader thorax when contrasted to the abdomen. The damselfly has a slim or narrower thorax when determined to the core.
Difference Between Dragonfly and Damselfly
  1. https://bioone.org/journals/northeastern-naturalist/volume-21/issue-4/045.021.0414/Dragonfly-and-Damselfly-Colonization-and-Recolonization-of-a-Large-Semi/10.1656/045.021.0414.short
  2. https://journals.flvc.org/flaent/article/download/79325/76669
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