Dragonflies & Damselflies: What’s the Difference?

Dragonflies and Damselflies are both super similar to each other, but there are some key differences! Of course, each of these comes with a caveat—they are true most of the time. There are definitely some exceptions. Who knows, maybe some of them are aliens?

Dragonflies

Dragonflies tend to be large-bodied, both thick and long. Their eyes tend to be gigantic, too! They usually meet in the middle and remind me of a fighter pilot helmet, and when you consider that a dragonfly can accelerate at 3 Gs and make a near-effortless turn at 9 Gs, the Top Gun parallels only increase. When at rest, their equal-sized wings stick out to the sides, sort of like an airplane.

A green and black dragonfly with a body representative of most dragonflies

Damselflies

Damselflies are a bit different than dragonflies. Aptly named, they’re sort of aesthetically like the “damsel in distress” of dragonflies. They tend to be smaller-bodied, long and slender, and borderline dainty. Their eyes tend to be smaller and separated at either end of their head on stalks, sort of like a hammerhead shark. Their hindwings are larger than their forewings, and they rest straight back along the length of their body—most of the time.

A typical damselfly

Shared Traits

There are definitely some commonalities. For one, they both have long bodies. They also both have aquatic larvae that undergo an incomplete metamorphosis, as compared to a complete metamorphosis like in butterflies. In terms of wings, they both have four total. And no, they are not aliens—we think.

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