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Difference Between Dragonfly and Damselfly

Dragonfly vs Damselfly

Dragonflies and damselflies are two types of insects that are often mistaken for each other. This is due to their similar appearance and similar biological classifications.
Both insects are under the following classification: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insect, and Order Odonata. They are both different in their suborder. Dragonflies belong to the suborder Anisoptera (meaning unequally winged) while damselflies belong to the suborder Zygoptera (which means yoke winged).

Another point of differences and similarities are their physical anatomy and habits. As members of the same order, they have the same body characteristics like membrane-like wings, large eyes, slender bodies, and small antennae. However, closer inspection can introduce the subtle different clues like body shape, position of the eyes, and other physiological characteristics are evident in distinguishing the two.

Damselflies have a smaller body build compared to the broader and larger body of the dragonfly. The eyes of the damselflies are clearly separated from each other and situated on each side of its head. On the other hand, the dragonflies have closely-spaced eyes which are placed on the top of the animal’s head. In addition, the eye shape of both insects is different. Damselflies have cylindrical eyes while dragonflies have round eyes.

In terms of wings, damselflies have uniform shapes and sizes. The hind wings of the damselflies are also narrow. This is in contrast to dragonflies which have different sizes of wings plus broader hind wings. Wings are also an important clue of an insect’s identity. When at rest, the damselfly has closed wings, and they are held over its abdomen. The wings are pressed together. The dragonfly has a contrasting image; open wings, wings are positioned at right angles away from the body, flat, and parallel to the ground.

The thorax of the damselfly is narrower compared to the dragonfly’s broad thorax. Damselflies are also perchers, meaning they rather perch than fly. When damselflies do fly, they usually do for a shorter distance and close to the water. Dragonflies are the fliers, and they tend to cover larger distances and away from the water.
As eggs, damselflies are cylindrical and are deposited from ovipositors from their mothers. Ovipositors are egg-laying tubes. Dragonflies don’t have this kind of tube, and its eggs are round shaped.

The nymph damselflies also have three candal lamellae or gills. In contrast, nymph dragonflies already have gills in their bodies.
Aside from these differences, both dragonflies and damselflies are very similar in lifestyle and habitant. Both insects live and breed in freshwater bodies of water like rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, swamps, marshes and dykes.
They also have the same diets – small insects and they are also considered as part of larger animal’s diet. This role gives them prominence in an ecosystem and its food chain. Animals that eat both insects are birds, frogs and larger flies.


1.The damselfly and the dragonfly share may similarities – that include classification order and physical appearance. Both are under the same classification in terms of kingdom, phylum, class and order.
2.Damselflies are grouped into the suborder Zygoptera (yoke-winged) while dragonflies belong to suborder Anisoptera (unequal winged).
3.In terms of body shape, damselflies are smaller compared to larger dragonflies
4.As their suborder implies, the damselflies have uniform shape and size of wings with a narrow hind wings. Dragonflies, on the other hand, have uneven wing shape and size, with broader hind wings.
5.The wings are also a useful indicator when the animal is at rest. Damselflies have their wings closed, pressed together and held over their bodies. In contrast, dragonflies’ wings are open; wings are either horizontal or downward and away from the body.
6.The eyes of the damselfly are separated, spherical in shape and located at the sides of the head.
7.Damselflies are known to be perchers while dragonflies are the fliers. Damselflies only cover a short distance compared to the dragonflies’ flight. Damselflies like water and tend to fly to a water source unlike dragonflies.

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