Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Suborder Zygoptera - Damselflies

Is this an Enallagma carunculatum? - Enallagma carunculatum Damselfly 724-1 - Argia Eastern Forktail - Ischnura verticalis - male Aztec Dancer - Argia nahuana Damsel from South Carolina - Ischnura ramburii Western red damsel? - Amphiagrion abbreviatum - male Damselfly - Hesperagrion heterodoxum - male Blue-tipped Dancer - Argia tibialis - male
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
Suborder Zygoptera (Damselflies)
Explanation of Names
Zygoptera Selys 1854
135 spp. in 22 genera of 4 families in our area(1); almost 3000 spp. in >300 genera of 18 families worldwide(2)(3)
Forewing and hindwing similar size and shape, held at rest above body (except Spreadwings.) Very slender abdomen. Male has four terminal appendages and female has well-developed ovipositor.(4)
Broadwinged damsels (Jewelwings, Rubyspots) have wider wings than Pond Damsels and may have colored or spotted wings (most Pond Damsels have clear wings except for pterostigma.)
Spreadwings are readily identified because they do not fold the wings together snugly--they also typically "hang" from a perch, with wings slightly spread. The Great Spreadwing is our largest damselfly.
Males and females are typically different in color, with the male showing more brilliant color, though some female damsels are also brightly colored. In some species females have both a male-form and a female-form color pattern. (5) plate 6f and others.
Identification is made by noting details of markings on head, thorax, and abdomen.
Guides: northern spp.(6)(7), TX(8), FL(9)(10)
adults mostly near ponds, streams, etc. (water required for reproduction), but some species may be found at a distance from water, especially near the ground in grass, woods, etc.
Generally, warm weather. Some emerge early in spring, others in midsummer; in many locations, species follow a sequence through the warm part of the year.
smaller invertebrates
See Also
Dragonflies (Anisoptera) usually hold wings spread at rest
Internet References
WV Zygoptera (images, some life history info)
Works Cited
1.Dragonfly Society of the Americas. 2012. North American Odonata
2.The classification and diversity of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata). In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity:...
Dijkstra KDB, Bechly G, Bybee SM, Dow RA, Dumont HJ, Fleck G, Garrison RW, Hämäläinen M, Kalkman VJ, Karube H, May ML, Orr AG. 2013. Zootaxa 3703: 036–045.
3.Dragonflies of the World
Jill Silsby. 2001. Smithsonian Institution Press.
4.A Field Guide to Insects
Richard E. White, Donald J. Borror, Roger Tory Peterson. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Co.
5.Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States
John C. Abbott. 2005. Princeton University Press.
6.Damselflies of the Northeast
Ed Lam. 2004. Biodiversity Books.
7.Damselflies of the North Woods
Bob DuBois. 2005. Kollath-Stensaas Publishing.
8.Damselflies of Texas: A field guide
Abbott J.C. 2011. University of Texas Press. 292 pp.
9.Damselflies of Florida, Bermuda, and the Bahamas
Sidney W. Dunkle. 1991. Scientific Publishers.
10.Identification manual for the damselfly larvae (Zygoptera) of Florida
Richardson J.S. 2010. Dept Envir. Prot., Tallahassee. 62 pp.