oscarinnes's picture

Damsel or dragonfly

Observed: 17th June 2011 By: oscarinnes
damselflyordragonfly1 1
damselflyordragonfly1 1 2
damselflyordragonfly1 1 2 3
damselflyordragonfly1 1 2 3 4
damselflyordragonfly1 1 2 3 4 5
damselflyordragonfly1 1 2 3 4 5 6

Resting on a conifer next to the river Avon in Barford

Species interactions

No interactions present.


lordro's picture

oscarinnes' question...

Widely separated eyes=Zygoptera,i.e. Damsel flies, otherwise known as May flies. These also fold their wings along their backs when at rest, and tend to be noticably smaller than Dragons-Anisoptera, which have eyes meeting in the centre of the head, and settle with their wings spread at right angles to the body. Your photographs nicely illustrate a Damsel.

oscarinnes's picture


thankyou for describing the difference between the two species.

RoyW's picture

Dragonflies, damselflies, and mayflies.

Regarding lordo's comment ("Damsel flies, otherwise known as May flies"), damselflies and mayflies are completely different insects (damselflies are in the order Odonata, along with dragonflies, Mayflies are in the order Ephemeroptera).
One of the main differences between damselflies (Zygoptera) and dragonflies (Anisoptera) is that the two pairs of wings are similarly shaped in damselflies ("Zygo" means equal, "ptera" means wings), but the hind wings tend to be much broader than the fore wings in dragonflies ("Aniso" means unequal).

Dragonflies and damselflies are two different 'suborders' within the Odonata, with something like 2500 species of each (give or take a few hundred).

ophrys's picture


Pedantic maybe(!), but zygo- comes from the Greek 'zugon', meaning a yoke. It should imply that the wings are joined together, rather than equal. Perhaps so called as Damselflies hold their wings one atop the other, at rest, while Dragonflies hold each wing separate from the other?


My Flickr photos...


RoyW's picture

Pedantic? Perhaps...

You are correct about the origin of zygo- (as far as I know!), and also that it may be used to mean "joined". However, it can also mean "paired" which could be taken to refer to the fact that the wings are similar in shape (I should perhaps have said "paired/similar" rather than "equal". It could be that the name was originally applied for either, or both, of these reasons.

I have to admit that personally I don't much like the suggestion that damselflies hold there wings together over their abdomen (they don't always), and that dragonflies never do (they do when recently emerged at the very least. The difference in wing shape always applies though.

It's slightly off the topic of the original ID, but I'd be interested in any other comments people have on this.