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How to differentiate between the two species in Order Odonata?

by Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas
Order Odonata (Copyright © Choong Chee Yen)

Dragonflies and damselflies are the two members of the order Odonata. Being closely related to each other, it is easy to confuse them. Without closer inspection, you could hardly differentiate between the two. They may appear to be similar but there are few key characteristics that separate these two species category. Once you knew which part to focus on, recognizing between the two should be easy.

There are some details that you must pay attention to in order to differentiate between dragonflies and damselflies. Even an inexperienced bug-watcher can use it to identify the two species category. The details are:-

  1. the eye position
  2. the wing position during perching
  3. the size and shape of the forewing and hindwing

Have a look at the Table 1 below for a quick comparison between dragonfly and damselfly and try to test your understanding by identifying the images above.

However, it is important to note that there are also several species of damselflies perching with open wings such as Dysphaea dimidiata or also known as Black Velvetwing. This state is an extraordinary behaviour for a damselfly.

Table 1
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