The Common Parasol. Singapore Botanic Gardens.

In the course of looking at photographs posted in the ViewBug and National Geographic Your Photo galleries, I often come across pictures of damselflies captioned as dragonflies. It isn’t really difficult to differentiate between these two members of the order Odonata as they each have marked characteristics. One has only to focus on four details to tell if the insect is a dragonfly or a damselfly.

Crimson Dropwing head.

Blue Sprit head.

The eyes: Eyes of dragonflies are much larger than damselflies and they take up most of the head, wrapping around from the front to the sides. The damselfly’s eyes are also large but there is always a space or gap between the eyes.

Blue Dasher.

Blue Sprite.

The body: Dragonflies have bulkier bodies. These are short and thick in appearance. The bodies of damselflies are thin or narrow.

Scarlet Skimmer.

Common Bluetail female.

The wings: Dragonflies have wings that are broader at their bases. The back wings are often larger than the front pair. Damselflies have wings of the same size and shape both front and back.These taper as they join the body becoming narrow as they connect.

Crimson Dropwing.

Ornate Coraltail.

Wing position at rest: Finally, when the insect is at rest, Dragonflies hold their wings out perpendicular to their bodies, like an airplane. Damselflies at rest, fold their wings up and hold them together across the top of, and in line, with their backs. The pictures above are all taken from my NGYP gallery and plainly show these marked differences.

A favourite! The Ornate Coraltail, Singapore Botanic Gardens.