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Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonata)

Odonata (Dragonflies & Damselflies)

Both dragonflies and damselflies belong to the ancient order, Odonata (toothed ones). Within this order are two distinct sub-orders; Anisoptera, the dragonflies and Zygoptera, the damselflies. These are easily distinguished from each other in numerous ways. In dragonflies, except clubtails, the eyes meet or nearly meet in the middle of the head, whereas damselflies have widely separated eyes. Dragonflies, when perched, hold their wings horizontally while damselflies fold them over their backs. Both can move their wings independently of each other giving them greater control in flight, though dragonflies have strong, sustained flight and damselflies are more weak and fluttery. Also, damselflies are smaller and more slender than their more robust cousins.

Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata) newly emerged from its nymph skin or exuvia

Both dragonflies and damselflies have formidable mandibles for eating any insect they can catch with their legs, from mosquitoes to beetles to other odonates. Their compound eyes, along with three little ocelli or simple eyes allow them to see in almost 360 degrees. Scientists believe that 80% of the odonate brain is used for visual information. Hence, the difficulty in netting them and their 98% catch rate.

Sex is both unique and challenging for these insects. Claspers at the end of the males, though slightly different in both dragonflies and damselflies, serve the same purpose, to catch and hold the female. The sexual genitals in both genders are uniquely designed to act as a lock and key. Though some males will try to breed outside their species, it is invariably doomed to failure. They just don’t fit.

male and female Familiar Bluets (Enallagma civile) wheeling

Unlike butterflies that go through a four stage metamorphosis, dragonflies and damselflies go through a three stage, incomplete metamorphosis: egg, larva and adult dragonfly. Most of its life is spent as a voracious nymph hunting underwater in streams, lakes and ponds. As the nymph grows it sheds its skin numerous times (instars). The nymph stage, depending on species and location can last from a few months to 8 years, though in most North American species, only from one season to the next. Just before its last instar, the nymph goes into diapause or a rest period where the last changes in its body, such as the wings, are completed. It then crawls out onto the stem of a plant or onto a rock or tree trunk and completes its life cycle by freeing its now tranformed adult body from the old nymph skin. After hardening its wings with hemolymph (blood) and letting them dry, the teneral dragonfly or damselfy flies off and begins its new life as an adult.

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Kingston Study Area

This is a verified list of dragonfly and damselfly species observed in the Kingston Study Area (a 50 km radius circle centered on the peak of Murney Tower). Some species outside of the Kingston Study Area have been included, notably from Menzel Centennial Provincial Nature Reserve.
Common NameScientific NameFamilyEarliestLatestComments
River JewelwingCalopteryx aequabilisCalopterygidae2022
Ebony JewelwingCalopteryx maculataCalopterygidae2022
Spotted SpreadwingLestes congenerLestidae2022
Northern SpreadwingLestes disjunctusLestidae2022
Sweetflag SpreadwingLestes forcipatusLestidae2022
Emerald SpreadwingLestes dryasLestidae2022
Amber-winged SpreadwingLestes eurinusLestidae2022
Elegant SpreadwingLestes inaequalisLestidae2022
Slender SpreadwingLestes rectangularisLestidae2022
Lyre-tipped SpreadwingLestes unguiculatusLestidae2022
Swamp SpreadwingLestes vigilaxLestidae2022
Powdered DancerArgia moestaCoenagrionidae2022
Violet DancerArgia fumipennis violaceaCoenagrionidae2022
Aurora DamselChromagrion conditumCoenagrionidae2022
Taiga BluetCoenagrion resolutumCoenagrionidae2022
Rainbow BluetEnallagma antennatumCoenagrionidae2022
Azure BluetEnallagma aspersumCoenagrionidae2022
Northern BluetEnallagma annexumCoenagrionidae2022
Boreal BluetEnallagma borealeCoenagrionidae2022
Vernal BluetEnallagma vernaleCoenagrionidae2022
Tule BluetEnallagma carunculatumCoenagrionidae2022
Familiar BluetEnallagma civileCoenagrionidae2022
Westfall's Slender BluetEnallagma traviatum westfalliCoenagrionidae2022
River BluetEnallagma annaCoenagrionidae
Stream BluetEnallagma exsulansCoenagrionidae2022
Marsh BluetEnallagma ebriumCoenagrionidae2022
Skimming BluetEnallagma geminatumCoenagrionidae2022
Hagen's BluetEnallagma hageniCoenagrionidae2022
Orange BluetEnallagma signatumCoenagrionidae2022
Vesper BluetEnallagma vesperumCoenagrionidae2022
Citrine ForktailIschnura hastataCoenagrionidae
Fragile ForktailIschnura positaCoenagrionidae2022
Eastern ForktailIschnura verticalisCoenagrionidae2022
Sedge SpriteNehalennia ireneCoenagrionidae2022
Sphagnum SpriteNehalennia qracilisCoenagrionidae
Canada DarnerAeshna canadensisAeshnidae2022
Mottled DarnerAeshna clepsydraAeshnidae2022
Lake DarnerAeshna eremitaAeshnidae2022
Lance-tipped DarnerAeshna constrictaAeshnidae2022
Variable DarnerAeshna interruptaAeshnidae
Zig-zag DarnerAeshna sitchensisAeshnidae
Black-tipped DarnerAeshna tuberculiferaAeshnidae2022
Shadow DarnerAeshna umbrosaAeshnidae2022
Green-striped DarnerAeshna verticalisAeshnidae
Common Green DarnerAnax juniusAeshnidae2022
Springtime DarnerBasiaeschna janataAeshnidae2022
Fawn DarnerBoyeria vinosaAeshnidae2022
Swamp DarnerEpiaeschna herosAeshnidae2022
Harlequin DarnerGomphaeshna furcillataAeshnidae2022
Cyrano DarnerNasiaeschna pentacanthaAeshnidae2022
Unicorn ClubtailArigomphus villosipesGomphidae2022
Horned ClubtailArigomphus cornutusGomphidae2022
Lilypad ClubtailArigomphus furciferGomphidae2022
Lancet ClubtailPhanogomphus exilisGomphidae2022
Ashy ClubtailPhanogomphus lividusGomphidae
Dusky ClubtailPhanogomphus spicatusGomphidae2022
Black-shouldered SpinylegDromogomphus spinosusGomphidae2022
Mustached ClubtailHylogomphus adelphusGomphidae2022
DragonhunterHagenius brevistylusGomphidae2022
Rusty SnaketailOphiogomphus rupinsulensisGomphidae2022
Eastern Least ClubtailStylogomphus albistylusGomphidae2022
Elusive ClubtailStylurus notatusGomphidae
Delta-spotted SpiketailCordulegaster diastatopsCordulegastridae2022
Twin-spotted SpiketailCordulegaster maculataCordulegastridae2022
Arrowhead SpiketailCordulegaster obliquaCordulegastridae
Stream CruiserDidymops transversaMacromiidae2022
Swift River CruiserMacromia illinoiensisMacromiidae
American EmeraldCordulia shurtleffiCorduliidae2022
Racket-tailed EmeraldDorocordulia liberaCorduliidae2022
Beaverpond BaskettailEpitheca canisCorduliidae2022
Spiny BaskettailEpitheca spinigeraCorduliidae2022
Common BaskettailEpitheca cynosuraCorduliidae2022
Prince BaskettailEpitheca princepsCorduliidae2022
Uhler's SundragonHelocordulia uhleriCorduliidae2022
Stygian ShadowdragonNeurocorduIia yamaskanenslsCorduliidae
Kennedy's EmeraldSomatochlora kennedyiCorduliidae2022Menzel Centennial only
Brush-tipped EmeraldSomatochlora walshiiCorduliidae2022
Williamson's EmeraldSomatochlora williamsoniCorduliidae2022
Ebony BoghaunterWilliamsonia fletcheriCorduliidae2022Menzel Centennial only
Calico PennantCelithemis elisaLibellulidae2022
Halloween PennantCelithemis eponinaLibellulidae2022
Eastern PondhawkErythemis simplicicollisLibellulidae2022
Chalk-fronted CorporalLadona juliaLibellulidae2022
Dot-tailed WhitefaceLeucorrhinia intactaLibellulidae2022
Belted WhitefaceLeucorrhinia proximaLibellulidae2022
Frosted WhitefaceLeucorrhinia frigidaLibellulidae2022
Hudsonian WhitefaceLeucorrhinia hudsonicaLibellulidae2022
Crimson-ringed WhitefaceLeucorrhinia glacialisLibellulidae
Widow SkimmerLibellula luctuosaLibellulidae2022
Slaty SkimmerLibellula incestaLibellulidae2022
Twelve-spotted SkimmerLibellula pulchellaLibellulidae2022
Four-spotted SkimmerLibellula quadrimaculataLibellulidae2022
Painted SkimmerLibellula semifasciataLibellulidae2022
Elfin SkimmerNannothemis bellaLibellulidae2022
Blue DasherPachydiplax longipennisLibellulidae2022
Wandering GliderPantala flavescensLibellulidae2022
Spot-winged GliderPantala hymenaeaLibellulidae
Eastern AmberwingPerithemis teneraLibellulidae2022
Common WhitetailPlathemis lydiaLibellulidae2022
Saffron-winged MeadowhawkSympetrum costiferumLibellulidae
Cherry-faced MeadowhawkSympetrum internumLibellulidae
White-faced MeadowhawkSympetrum obtrusumLibellulidae2022
Ruby MeadowhawkSympetrum rubicundulumLibellulidae
Band-winged MeadowhawkSympetrum semicinctumLibellulidae2022
Autumn MeadowhawkSympetrum vicinumLibellulidae2022
Red SaddlebagsTramea onustaLibellulidae
Carolina SaddlebagsTramea carolinaLibellulidae2022
Black SaddlebagsTramea lacerataLibellulidae2022