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Did You Know? Incredible Damselfly Facts

Damselfly facts are intriguing to read about

In this article, we will learn about damselflies which is the name given to members of the suborder Zygoptera. These insects have existed in some relatively unchanged form since the Permian period (between about 298-251 million years ago). Dragonflies and damselflies are often confused with one another; damselflies even fly like dragonflies. But these two are different insects and this article will explain how they differ and how they are similar as well.

Going through the process of molting about 12 times, the damselflies live their life as larva (Nymph) and then transforming into their adult form. When in this form, the damselfly emerges from the water during daytime and spreads its wings to fly out of the water. These insects are so beautiful that their appearance has been used for inspiration for the purpose of designing personalized jewelry like brooches. These insects feed on small aquatic insects like mosquito larvae, small worms, water flea, etc.

Read until the end of this article to learn more damselfly facts for kids, adults, and all and if you find this insect intriguing, make sure to read these articles too on the morpho butterfly and honey bee.

Damselfly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Damselfly?

Damselfly is a type of insect that resembles the look of a dragonfly, although they are not related.

What class of animal does a Damselfly belong to?

The damselfly belongs to the class Insecta which comprises of all insects you can think of. Within this class, the damselflies are part of the order Odonata which has two other classifications. One category is  Zygoptera which are the damselflies and the other is the Anisoptera which are the dragonflies.

How many Damselflies are there in the world?

The exact population of every species of damselflies is hard to estimate. What is known is that there are nearly 2,942 species of damselflies that are categorized within 309 genera.

Where does a Damselfly live?

Damselflies rely on freshwater sources. So they are spotted living near ponds, lakes, and even rivers. These freshwater locations where the damselfly lives are present in every continent except Antarctica.

What is a Damselfly's habitat?

Damselflies rely heavily on freshwater in each part of their life cycle. Generally, they lay their eggs in aquatic conditions, for example within parts of a water plant. Nymphs (which is the name for baby Damselflies) are essentially aquatic animals. They stay in this state for about two or three months after which they emerge out of the water. Their reliance on freshwater changes as they mature in their life cycle because the animals prey on mosquito larva, water spiders, small insects, and flying insects live in or around such a habitat.

Who do Damselflies live with?

As larvae, the species live in close proximity to other damselfly larvae. This species does not live very long, and as adults, damselflies live near prospective mating partners.

How long does a Damselfly live?

The average age of damselflies varies depending on the size of the species. Smaller damselflies have a shorter lifespan with only a couple of weeks as flying adults. Whereas, the larger ones can survive for up to 4 months as flying adults.

How do they reproduce?

Damselfly reproduction is a fascinating subject to learn about. The male damselflies often partake in elaborate rituals to attract the female to its territory to mate. Once a female shows interest, the male adult damselfly, and female adult damselfly join together in a wheel position as they fly. After a process that requires a lot of coordination and choreography, the female lays the eggs on or inside water plants. As this happens the male fights off and protects the female from other males that have their own reproductive interests in mind.

What is their conservation status?

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, for most species of the damselflies, the conservation status is Least Concern. Conservation efforts for  Odonata are often concentrated towards dragonflies, and damselflies on the other hand get a bit neglected. But, thankfully being like dragonflies, damselflies get positively impacted by whatever conservation efforts are made to protect dragonflies. Clearance of forests, pollution of water bodies, and the destruction of their natural freshwater habitats are a threat to these insects.

Damselfly Fun Facts

What do Damselflies look like?

Damselflies' facts include damselfly larvae facts and damselfly nymph facts

Damselflies are insects with varied colors depending on the family. Some damselflies have black wings while others have transparent ones. Their adult bodies may have colors like blue, red, yellow, black, and sometimes they can be seen in even brighter colors.  Notably, male damselflies are brighter colored than their female counterparts. Damselflies are very delicate and have long and thin bodies. Their appearance and color may even vary depending on their environment and temperature. Damselflies have large gaps between their eyes that bulge out, which is paired with very short antennae. As they rest, adult damselflies hold their wings vertically as opposed to horizontally.

How cute are they?

With no discernable facial features to fawn over, it is hard to call the damselflies cute.

How do they communicate?

Damselflies are not very communicative. One of the only ways you see them communicate is when the male uses its colorful wings to impress the female during mating season. Flying over the water at higher speed as a performance, the male tries to show off its prowess as a prospective mate.

How big is a Damselfly?

Damselflies are surely bigger than house flies but generally aren't as big as their close relatives, the dragonfly. The wingspan of adult damselflies is within 0.71 in and 7.5 in. Their bodies on the other hand are about 0.75 in - 1.75 in long.

How fast can Damselflies fly?

Damselflies as the name suggests are proficient flyers with their speeds having been recorded at about 5 ft per second as a result of their 16 wingbeats in the same time period.

How much does a Damselfly weigh?

Being insects, the damselfly, understandably, has very little weight that may range from 0.0011 oz to 0.0016 oz.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no unique names for the damselfly based on their sexes

What would you call a baby Damselfly?

Baby damselflies are called 'Nymphs'. Damselflies stay in the stage of nymphs for about two to three months.

What do they eat?

A damselfly's diet is different for the two stages of their life that are as damselfly nymphs and as adults. As damselfly nymphs or larvae, the damselflies feed exclusively on aquatic insects. They eat aquatic insects like mosquito larvae, small worms, water flea, and other really tiny aquatic creatures. As adults, the diet of damselflies expands to flies, mosquitoes, moths, and some beetles.

Are they harmful?

Damselflies are harmless to humans and can in fact indirectly help humans by preying on harmful insects whose overpopulation may impact humans (mosquitos being one such insect).

Would they make a good pet?

With a very short lifespan and other factors including diet and habitat, it is challenging to keep the damselfly as a pet. It is best to look elsewhere for your next pet.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

Some of the nicknames that the damselfly has are devil's darning needles, damsels, or bog dancers.

Damselflies have been living on this earth much longer than a lot of species. They have been here for about 300 million years.

Different types of Damselfly

There are over 2900 species of damselflies which give an absolute abundance of diversity in nature. Living near freshwater habitats too isn't a feature that is common to all damselflies. Some damselflies that belong to the family Caenagrionidae breed in the water that is a little salty as opposed to freshwater. Damselflies are not known to go too far from the freshwater habitats where they are born, but with so many species there are exceptions such as boreal bluets in British Columbia migrate often (only if they are male and large in size though).  Damselflies size varies drastically from one species to another. The smallest ones belong to the genus Agriocnemis that live mainly in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The largest damselflies are of the family of helicopter damselflies such as the Megaloprepus whose wings can span over 7.5 in. In color too, there is variance within damselflies, like the Lestidae sporting colorless wings while others, like Calopterygidae, flaunting colored ones.

Damselfly vs. dragonfly

Damselflies often get labeled as dragonflies, and while they are closely related certain features set them apart. When it comes to the fight, dragonfly vs damselfly, the fight is in favor of dragonflies which are known to prey on damselflies.  The dragonflies and damselflies both belong to the order Odonata. Dragonflies and damselflies have the following four physical feature that distinguishes them:

Eyes: Dragonflies have eyes that are larger than those of damselflies.

Resting position: Dragonfly wings are horizontal as they rest while damselfly wings are vertical.

Body Shape: Dragonflies have bigger and bulkier bodies than damselflies' bodies.

Wing shape: Dragonfly hind wings are broader at the base while all four damselfly wings are the same size.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including the purple emperor butterfly and the stag beetle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our dragonfly and butterfly coloring pages.

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