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Damselflies and dragonflies are related insects of the Order Odonata. As adults, you can tell the two apart by the fact that the damselfly has a very long, slender abdomen and, when not flying, usually holds its long stiff wings together with tips touching over its back. The dragonfly generally has a thicker abdomen, and when resting, holds its wings straight out from its body in the same position as in flight.

Natural History

Damselflies begin their life underwater, hatching from eggs and spending their first stage of life as aquatic larva or nymphs. During this stage of their lives they breath through gills and are ferocious aquatic predators, feeding on other aquatic larva, tadpoles and small minnows. While underwater, nymphs may molt several times. When ready to molt for the final time, the nymph leaves the water, and crawls onto a plant stem or rock. The outer skin of the nymph then splits and an adult damselfly emerges.

Damselflies are good flyers and can attain speeds of up to 30 mph.

As flying adults, damselflies only live a month or two. During this short time they will stake out a territory, hunt for food, locate a mate, and begin the entire life cycle again. They can often be seen flying over the water (eating midges and mosquitoes) on warm, sunny afternoons.

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