Free images - Odonata - Dragonflies & Damselflies
on large files: Very large files may be bigger than your screen.
Odonata is an order of carnivorous insects which include Dragonflies and Damselflies. There are between 5,000 - 6,000 species. Odonata are an indicator species for assessing habitat and water quality in wetlands, forests and lakeshore habitats. The Order includes seven dragonfly and three common damselfly families, some of which include: Skimmers (Libellulidae), Aeshnidae (Darners), Spiketails (Cordulegastridae), Clubtails (Gomphidae), Petal Tails (Petaluridae), Emeralds (Corduliidae) and Cruisers (Macromiidae).
These insects have large rounded heads, compound eyes, two pairs of long, transparent wings, elongated abdomens and legs built for catching prey. Their long, slender abdomens have inspired names such as "Devil's Darning Needles" and "Horse Sticker" and "Mule Killer", however these insects do not sting and are harmless. In fact, insects in the order Odonata are helpful for humans since they have great appetites and eat species we consider to be nuisances - mosquitoes, gnats, midges and other biting bugs that bother us during the summer months.
Males and females often have different colourings making identification to those of us who are not entomologists (scientists who study insects) difficult at times. For example, just to make things difficult, some species change colour with age and seasons! Some species body colours change temporarily in response to cooler temperatures. Finally, some species develop a whitish or pale bluish waxy powder, known as pruinescence, covering their body and wings.
►Did you know...
Odonates have compound eyes that have 10 - 30,000 individual lenses? The eyes of dragonflies meet or almost meet at the top of their heads. Damselfly eyes are widely spaced.
Odonates have six legs that are adapted for perching on narrow vegetation such as grasses. While flying, the insects hold their legs in an oval basket shape, ready to scoop up those nasty mosquitoes.
Odonates lay one or a few eggs in water or on plants near wet places. The eggs hatch to produce "nymphs" that live off the nutrients that were in the egg. The nymphs are aquatic or semi-aquatic and spend most of their lives under the water. When the time is right, nymphs emerge from the water, cling to a nearby plant and emerge from their nymph shells to become flying dragon or damselflies. As fliers, they live a brief life only to mate and die when the summer is over.
Nymphs have stocky, short bodies with no wings, small eyes, longer antennae. Dragonfly nymphs breathe through an organ in their rectum while damselfly nymphs breathe through external gills on their abdomen.
Dragonfly or Damselfly - What's the difference?
The quick answer: adult Dragonflies cannot fold their wings along their back and are much bigger and thicker bodied.
Although both are known for their helicopter-like flight and dazzling aerial feats, Dragonflies have broad bodies and enormous eyes, while Damselflies are more slender and delicate. They are both very good hunters of flying insects and sometimes called Mosquito Hawks.
Here are a few differences to look
► Did you know...
that adult dragonflies can fly in six directions: upwards, downwards, forward, back and side to side.
Right: Dragonfly png2 (485 x 322)
► Did you know....
that odonates regulate their body temperature by changing body positions? On hot days, some species hold their wings downward and raise their abdomens to reduce the amount of body surface exposed to the sun.
►Did you also know....
that males hunt for mates trying to detect visual movement. They can see for a distance up to thirty feet! Odonates mate in what is called a "wheel" position. Males transfer sperm from an opening at the tip of their abdomen to a secondary organ located near the thorax. The female curves her abdomen downward and forward until it comes into contact with the sperm.