Nature Photo Challenge #10: Dragonflies

For Nature Photo Challenge #10 we enter the fascinating world of insects for the first time. Specifically, dragonflies, and their close relatives, damselflies.

Dragonflies and damselflies are fascinating insects that play important roles in aquatic ecosystems as predators and prey. Their bold and beautiful colors make them easy to spot and identify, and they are a delight to watch in action. A perfect project for a nature photographer!

Dragonflies and damselflies are both members of the Odonata order. If you are wondering how to tell the difference between them, here are some guidelines:

  • Body shape: Dragonflies have a stout, robust body with a broad thorax, while damselflies have a slender, delicate body with a narrow thorax.
  • Wing shape: Dragonflies have hind wings that are broader than their forewings and are held out flat when at rest. Damselflies have wings that are narrow and held over their back when at rest.
  • Eye placement: Dragonflies have eyes that touch or almost touch at the top of their head, while damselflies have eyes that are separated and more on the side of their head.
  • Behavior: Dragonflies typically have a strong, direct flight. They are often seen hunting and catching prey in mid-air. Damselflies tend to have a weaker, fluttery flight. They are often seen perching on vegetation or other objects near the water’s edge.
  • Habitat: Dragonflies tend to be found near bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, and rivers. They require clean, unpolluted water for breeding. Damselflies are also found near bodies of water but are more commonly found in slower-moving streams or shallow, marshy areas.

Looking forward to your dragonfly and damselfly photos! Here are mine:

Ruddy Darter male
The male Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Nature Photo Challenge
The female Ruddy Darter is not as ruddy!
Nature Photo Challenge #10
The Western Willow Spreadwing (Chalcolestes viridis) is a damselfly
Damselfly macro
Close-up of a damselfly’s head shows the eyes on its side

When dragonflies and damselflies mate they form what is called a “mating wheel.” The wheel is formed when the male grasps the female behind the head and the female raises the tip of her abdomen forward to come in contact with the genitalia of the male.

Azure damselflies
Two Azure Damselfies (Coenagrion puella) mating. Male on the left; female on the right
Azure Damselfly
The male on top with the female’s abdomen underneath
#Naturephotochallenge
The female being gripped by the male

One tip when photographing dragonflies. You may see a dragonfly resting on a perch, but as you approach it, it flies off. Don’t worry. Stay close to that perch. Dragonflies have a habit (very useful for photographers) of returning to their favored perch.

Have fun looking for dragonflies and damselflies! If you’re new to the Nature Photo Challenge, check this out.

79 comments

  1. Brilliant images Denzil, I love Dragonflies!!!
    So far I haven’t seen many Dragonflies here in Cyprus, I guess it’s too early but I’ll look for them when I’m out with the camera. Otherwise, it might be something from my archive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have excelled again Sarah with this gorgeous collection of dragons and damsels. Particularly like the mating damselflies that you have captured, and those roseate and purple skimmers are a beautiful colour.

      Like

  2. Amazing Denzil, some excellent photos and information. A ‘Go To ‘ about dragonflies. I have not identified many at Navasola and think seeing less since our pond was destroyed by the wild boar and so little water about now in the Andalusian region.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the coloured Damselflies. I should have read your post before posting mine but that’s OK I might go back and edit it.
    I am glad other bloggers liked your tips. I just sit for ages and they come around πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I managed to miss this post so I’m glad you do your recap with links to everyone’s posts. LOVE all of your photos here! And I learned something new: damselflies. Never heard of them before today. Cool! Could I make a suggestion? Put a link in your recap post of your original post of the challenge? If it was there, I didn’t find it so came here to see your original post. Another very interesting post with fabulous photos!

    Liked by 1 person

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