A dragonfly is a type of insect belonging to the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocta or, in the strict sense, the infraorder Anisoptera. It is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Even though dragonflies possess 6 legs like any other insect, they are not capable of walking.

Dragonflies are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, and butterflies. They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic.

Nymphs can deliver a painful bite when threatened. The wound should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent water-borne infections.


The Dragonfly ID app

 Dragonfly ID features bar charts built from the OdonataCentral database of sightings, recent sightings submitted to OdonataCentral displayed on maps, crowd-sourced text, images and more. Status and distribution information for odonates in North America!
  • Dragonfly and damselfly ancestors appeared 280-350 million years ago!
  • Some damselfly larvae are territorial; they defend their area by striking the intruder with either their gills or with the extensible face mask to scare the intruder away.