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What is a Dragonfly?

Dragonflies are insects that belong to the Order Odonata (meaning ‘toothed jaws'). British Odonata are divided into two Sub-Orders: Zygoptera = ‘damselflies' and ‘Anisoptera' = true dragonflies.

Differences between Dragonflies and Damselflies:

Damselflies (Zygoptera) are very delicate, slender insects. Their head is rectangular with large eyes on either side, a bit like a hammerhead. The front and back wings have the same shape and these are normally held closed along the abdomen when the damselfly is at rest.

Dragonflies (Anisoptera) tend to be larger, much more robust and are more powerful fliers. Their head is more spherical and almost entirely covered by a huge pair of eyes. The front and back wings are different in shape and these are normally held open whilst the dragonfly is at rest.

Body Parts of a Dragonfly:

Body parts of a dragonfly



National Biodiversity Network Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Joint Nature Conservation Committee