Owlfly mistaken for Dragonfly

Subject: Why does this dragonfly have clubbed antennae?
Location: Northern Kentucky
June 28, 2014 7:22 pm
Dear Bugman,
After looking for about two hours all over the web, I can’t find an ID for this so I’m typing this request… which probably means I will find the answer five minutes from now…. Anyway, my sons found this dragonfly-like insect on our siding in Kentucky. And I have to brag on them for just a second: they are 5 and 9 and knew that dragonflies don’t normally have “antlers.” It looks like a dragonfly, a moth, and a butterfly had an impossible love child. Dragonfly body/head, hairy, with clubbed antennae. Whuh? P.S. I think I accidentally uploaded the same pic twice.
Signature: Hannah P


Dear Hannah,
You are having identification problems because this is not a Dragonfly.  It is an Owlfly, and it is in the order Neuroptera with Antlions and Lacewings.  Many years ago, the first time we received an image of a colorful Owlfly from Italy, we were quite confused as it seemed to have the characteristics of several different insect orders and families.  It really reminded us of a Skipper because of the antennae and coloration, but we knew that was not correct.

Thanks Bugman,
After asking you about my owlfly, of course I found it this morning. Still, your reply is appreciated. I knew it couldn’t be a dragonfly, but I thought it quite funny that it looked like a dragonfly had eaten a whole butterfly and left the antennae hanging out of his mouth.
I’m glad I didn’t find that Italian Owlfly you linked to me, because much as I like bugs, that thing would’ve freaked me out big time. You ever hear the description of scorpions that goes: “scorpions are what happens when God combines spiders, snakes, and nightmares”? I’m thinking that Italian Owlfly would merit a similar hyperbole.

1 thought on “Owlfly mistaken for Dragonfly”

  1. Thanks, I was also looking for the same thing as i found this yesterday here near my house and quite surprised to see a dragonfly like insect with clubbed antenna


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