Where Do Dragonflies Live: Uncovering Their Diverse Habitats

Dragonflies are fascinating insects that can be found in various habitats around the world. You may have spotted these beautiful creatures near bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, or rivers, where they lay their eggs and spend their early life stages as aquatic larvae called nymphs. In these aquatic environments, dragonfly nymphs feed on other small aquatic organisms until they emerge as adults.

As an adult, a dragonfly’s primary focus is on hunting, feeding, and reproducing. Their expert flying abilities and large, complex eyes allow them to hunt for various flying insects like flies, gnats, and even smaller dragonflies. So, if you’re keen on observing these captivating insects, you should visit areas rich in water and other insects, which form their natural habitat.

It is important to note that there are over 5,000 species of dragonflies, and their preferred habitats may differ slightly from one species to another. Nevertheless, most dragonflies share some common features, such as a preference for water and an exceptional ability to hunt flying insects.

The Life Cycle of Dragonflies

From Egg to Nymph

Dragonflies begin their lives as eggs, which are laid by the female either in water or near water sources, like plants or sand. After about 10 days, the eggs hatch into larvae, often called nymphs, which are aquatic creatures living underwater for several years. During this time, nymphs experience multiple molting stages, growing larger each time. These nymphs are big eaters, devouring other aquatic insects, tadpoles, and even small fish.

Nymph to Adult Dragonfly

Eventually, the nymph reaches its final stage of development, preparing for its metamorphosis into an adult dragonfly. At this point, the nymph will climb up out of the water onto a nearby plant or rock. Here, the nymph’s skin splits open, revealing the fully-formed adult dragonfly. This process is known as emergence.

As the dragonfly starts its life as an adult, it spends time drying out and getting its wings ready for flight. Adult dragonflies then leave their watery habitats to live out their remaining lives flying through the air, feeding, and searching for mates.

During their lives, dragonflies inhabit various ecosystems such as streams, wetlands, lakes, and other water bodies. So, when you spot an adult dragonfly zooming around with its shimmering wings and vibrant colors, remember that it spent most of its life underwater as a nymph.

Habitat and Distribution

Freshwater Habitats

Dragonflies thrive in various freshwater habitats, such as ponds, rivers, lakes, and bogs. These insects depend on water for laying their eggs, and their aquatic larval stage is essential to their development. For example, the larvae of many species feed on small aquatic creatures like mosquito larvae, making dragonflies beneficial for controlling mosquito populations.

In wetland habitats, dragonflies can be found near other water sources like slow-flowing streams and marshy areas. These environments provide ample space for dragonflies to hunt for prey and mate. Dense vegetation and the abundance of smaller insects make wetlands a perfect habitat for dragonflies to thrive.

Global Presence

Dragonflies exhibit a wide global distribution, from the tropics to the colder regions of northern Alaska. Their presence is not limited by geographical boundaries as long as freshwater habitats are present.

Depending on the species, dragonflies may prefer different temperature ranges. Some species can adapt to various climates, while others might have specific temperature requirements. Since there are over 100 species of dragonflies in Florida alone, it’s evident that these insects can adapt to a diverse range of environments.

Remember, you’re likely to spot dragonflies near freshwater sources. Whether in a tropical rainforest or the icy streams of northern Alaska, dragonflies are an essential part of our ecosystems and contribute to maintaining balance and biodiversity.

Physical Characteristics and Flight

Body Structure

Dragonflies, belonging to the order Anisoptera, have three main body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. Their body structure is robust, with an elongated abdomen that appears slender. Some features of their anatomy include:

  • Head: Contains large, bulging eyes, which nearly cover the entire head.
  • Thorax: Anchors the wings and six legs, which are better suited for perching rather than walking.
  • Abdomen: An elongated, slender structure housing digestive and reproductive organs.

Vision and Wings

Dragonflies have exceptional vision due to their large compound eyes, which help them spot prey and avoid predators. Their eyes consist of a specialized upper part called the fovea, enabling selective attention and target focus during hunting.

Their transparent wings are a marvel of aerial engineering, allowing them to perform remarkable maneuvers during flight. These wings are attached to the thorax and elaborately veined. They have two pairs of wings, with the hindwing being wider at the base than the forewing. Dragonflies can hover, fly forwards and backwards, and achieve impressive speeds.

When it comes to flight, dragonflies use their keen vision and subtle wing control to maintain stability and orientation. They can even tumble and roll 180 degrees with just a few wing strokes, resuming flight in no time.

Behavior and Diet

Predatory Behavior

Dragonflies are skilled hunters that mainly feed on other flying insects. As predators, they play a crucial role in controlling insect populations, especially those of mosquitoes and midges, which are considered pests. For example, adult dragonflies predominantly prey on flies, mosquitoes, wasps, and bees. While hunting, they use their exceptional flying abilities to hover and swiftly capture their prey mid-air.

Some species of dragonflies have unique hunting strategies. Their diet may also include small fish, insect larvae, and worms. Dragonfly nymphs, which live underwater, share a similar diet but focus more on aquatic insects and other small aquatic organisms.

Mating and Breeding

Dragonflies have a fascinating mating and breeding behavior, which includes complex aerial displays. The male dragonflies establish and defend territories, attracting females for mating. During mating, the male and female dragonflies form a “mating wheel,” a behavior unique to this species.

After mating, the female dragonflies lay their eggs in or near water. The eggs soon hatch, and the nymphs emerge, beginning their lives as aquatic predators. Depending on the species, the nymph stage can last from a few weeks to several years. When the nymphs are fully grown, they emerge from the water and molt into adult dragonflies.

Key Features:

  • Predatory behavior targeting various flying insects
  • Exceptional flying abilities for hunting
  • Unique mating and breeding rituals, including the “mating wheel”
  • Aquatic nymph stage in their life cycle

Comparison to Similar Species

When it comes to the world of Odonata, you’ll find two main groups: dragonflies and damselflies. Both belong to the same order but are distinct in their characteristics and behavior. Let’s delve into their differences to better understand their unique qualities.

Physical Characteristics

Dragonflies have a sturdy, robust build, while damselflies possess a more delicate frame. To identify each, pay attention to their wings:

  • Dragonflies have broader wings that are usually similar in size and shape. When at rest, they keep their wings open horizontally like an airplane.
  • Damselflies have slender wings that taper towards the tips. They hold their wings closed over their bodies when resting, like a butterfly.

Another significant difference lies in their eyes. Dragonflies have larger, more prominent eyes that potentially touch each other or take up most of their head. In contrast, damselflies’ eyes are smaller and clearly separated on each side of the head.

Habitats

Both dragonflies and damselflies can be found near freshwater habitats like ponds, lakes, and streams. However, dragonflies typically prefer open, sunlit areas and often venture further away from water. Damselflies, on the other hand, are more commonly found in shaded or partially shaded areas near water bodies.

Behavior

When it comes to hunting, dragonflies are quite aggressive and fast-flying predators. They use their speed and agility to catch their prey mid-flight. Damselflies, although still predators, are more passive and tend to wait for their prey to come within reach before striking.

In your adventures exploring nature, you’re bound to encounter these fascinating creatures. Using the tips discussed above, you can now easily distinguish between dragonflies and damselflies to appreciate their captivating world even more.

Role in the Ecosystem

Dragonflies play a crucial role in maintaining the health of various ecosystems. As predators, they help control insect populations, including mosquitoes and other pests. They are also an important food source for birds, spiders, and other insect-eating animals.

In aquatic environments, dragonfly nymphs keep the population of small aquatic creatures in check, contributing to a balanced biodiversity. In turn, this balance helps maintain the quality of water, which benefits both plants and humans.

Summertime is the prime season for dragonflies, especially near water bodies. Dragonflies depend on a healthy aquatic habitat to lay their eggs and support the growth of their nymphs. As a result, the abundance of dragonflies is often an indicator of a healthy environment.

Dragonflies also have a role in sustaining plant life. Although they aren’t pollinators, their predatory actions keep herbivorous insects in check, helping to maintain the overall vegetation health.

Here are some roles that dragonflies play in the ecosystem:

  • Control populations of pests such as mosquitoes
  • Serve as a food source for other animals
  • Maintain aquatic biodiversity
  • Help preserve water quality
  • Contribute to the health of vegetation by controlling herbivorous insects

By understanding the vital role dragonflies play in maintaining biodiversity, you can appreciate their importance and the need for preserving suitable habitats for these remarkable insects.

Unique Species and Their Traits

When exploring the world of dragonflies, you’ll come across a variety of fascinating and unique species. Two particularly interesting examples are the hawkers and the globe skimmer.

Hawkers: These dragonflies are known for their exceptional flying abilities, allowing them to easily catch prey mid-air. Their powerful jaws enable them to efficiently devour their catch, starting with the head first1. You can identify hawkers by their elongated abdomens and robust bodies2. They are truly a marvel of nature.

Globe Skimmer: Also known as the wandering glider, this dragonfly species is famous for its incredible migratory feats, covering large distances in search of suitable habitats3. The globe skimmer holds the record for the longest migration of any insect, traveling up to 11,000 miles4. What makes this dragonfly species stand out is their ability to reproduce quickly during their travels, ensuring the continuance of their species.

Some fascinating aspects of dragonflies in general include:

  • Their compound eyes, which enable them to have almost 360-degree vision, as well as the ability to perceive ultraviolet and polarized light.
  • Dragonfly wings are unique, with the hindwings being wider at the base than the forewings. This design allows for exceptional maneuverability and speed.
  • Dragonfly larvae, or naiads, are aquatic creatures with the ability to jet water out of their abdomens as a form of locomotion5.

Remember, it’s essential to respect and preserve these fascinating creatures and their habitats, ensuring that future generations can appreciate their beauty and marvel at their unique traits.

Threats and Conservation

Climate change poses a significant threat to dragonfly populations. As temperature patterns shift, it can affect their breeding habitats and disrupt their life cycles. For example, warmer temperatures might cause some water sources to dry up, limiting the availability of suitable breeding sites. On the other hand, excessive rain and flooding could wash away dragonfly larvae from their preferred habitats.

To counter these challenges, there are several conservation efforts in place. Among them, scientists are monitoring dragonfly populations to better understand the impacts of climate change on their habitats. By tracking their distribution, it gives researchers valuable data to guide conservation plans.

Some neighborhoods also actively participate in creating and preserving dragonfly-friendly habitats. Such efforts include:

  • Planting native vegetation around ponds and wetlands to provide shelter and food for dragonflies
  • Avoiding the use of pesticides and other chemicals that may be harmful to dragonflies and their larvae
  • Regularly cleaning and maintaining water sources to support healthy dragonfly populations.

Moreover, it’s important to educate communities about the ecological benefits dragonflies offer. For example, they play a vital role in controlling mosquito populations, as their larvae are voracious predators of mosquito larvae. This knowledge can help motivate people to take action in preserving essential dragonfly habitats.

In conclusion, by addressing the threats posed by climate change and actively participating in dragonfly conservation efforts, you can contribute to the long-term survival and flourishing of these fascinating insects.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.nps.gov/sacn/learn/kidsyouth/river-dragonflies.htm

  2. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/dragonflies

  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantala_flavescens

  4. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/globe-skimmers-make-pretty-amazing-migrations-180956325/

  5. https://www.nps.gov/pinn/learn/nature/dragonfly.htm

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Dragonfly from Finland

 

Dragonfly photo in awe of your site
I’ve been browsing your site quite a lot lately and as there’s never too much good Dragonfly pictures I thought I would like to give my pic out for you if you like it. Of course I would be interested if you’d have more accurate description of the species or just a point out to something very similiar species on your website.
details:
Location: Europe/Finland/Southern-Finland.
Time: Summer Weather: Sunny, around + 20-25C
Place: countryside, big bush with lots of different coloured dragonflies circling around.
Lauri Mäki
Finland/Espoo

Hi Lauri,
Identifying different species of Dragonflies is not our strong point, but we believe this is one of the Skimmers.

Update: Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 2:38 AM
Good morning,
If I may, it is definitly a memeber of the Sympetrum genus (Meadowhawk in english), most certainly a form of Sympetrum striolatum..
I hope this helps,
Renaud, Switzerland

Letter 2 – Dragonfly from Rwanda

 

rwandan dragonfly at lake kivu 2
location:  Lake Kivu, Rwanda, Africa
August 3, 2012
hi daniel, can you determine the species of this colorful insect? thanks! clare.

Magenta Dragonfly from Rwanda

Hi Clare,
Your photo is lovely as is this magenta Dragonfly.  Sadly, we cannot seem to locate our copy of the Field Guide to Rwandan Dragonflies on the book shelf.  That was a joke.  We often have tremendous difficulty distinguishing our numerous North American species from one another since so many species resemble one another.  We couldn’t find any color matches on Grag Lasley’s African Dragonflies and Damselflies Index.  There are nearly 5000 photos posted to Africa Dragonfly and 908 species are listed and classified, but we cannot envision having enough time to click through them all.  We typed dragonfly and Africa into a search engine and we were surprised to find a close visual match, but alas, it led us to a Texas website with an online article entitled Aerial Acrobats, but there is no information on the species in the photo, or even a location where the photo was taken, though the Dragonflies in the show are supposed to be Texas species.  We are sorry that we cannot offer anything more concrete.

Letter 3 – Dragonfly from France

 

Subject: Saw this in Languedoc, France
Location: Languedoc, Mediterranean Coast, Southern France
January 28, 2013 4:40 pm
Hi Bugman, I cycled through masses of these by a canal in long grass in Languedoc, Southern France last September. Any idea what it is please? Thanks.
Signature: Chris Sherwell

Dragonfly

Dear Chris,
This is some species of Dragonfly.  Though they are revered in some countries like Japan, Dragonflies more than most insects are saddled with a plethora of maleficent common names including Devil’s Darning Needle, Ear Cutter, Snake Doctor and Eye Poker.  Many countries have odd superstitions and lore centered on Dragonflies and they are feared unnecessarily by many.  Dragonflies are beneficial predators that help control the populations of troublesome insects like mosquitoes.  Dragonflies will not sting nor bite humans.  While we don’t recognize this species, we did locate a photo on FlickR that appears to be the same species and it is also from France.

Update:  February 2, 2013
Hi Bugman, with your expertise as a starting point I’ve trawled the web for photos and found out it was a female Red Veined Darter. “Sympetrum fonscolombii can be seen on the wing throughout the year around the Mediterranean” – bang on for where we saw it in Southern France.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-veined_darter
Here’s a photo that almost matches mine!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25572396@N04/8152590534/in/photostream
Thanks for your help. The web would be a poorer place without people like you!
Rgds, Chris,

Thanks so much for the update.

Letter 4 – Dragonfly from Peru: Diastatops intensa

 

Subject: Fancy Peruvian Dragonfly?
Location: Loreto region, Peru
May 11, 2014 10:22 pm
Hi Mr Bugman,
I saw this very cool dragonfly in the Loreto region of Peru a few years back. I’m stumped as to what it might be. Any Ideas?
Thanks
Signature: Katie

Unknown Dragonfly
Unknown Dragonfly

Hi Katie,
This truly is a stunning Dragonfly.
  It appears to be Diastatops intensa, based on images posted to American Dragonfly.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for such a quick reply! That is exactly what it looks like.
Cheers
Katie

Letter 5 – Dragonfly from Thailand: Neurothemis tullia

 

Subject: What the name?
Location: Phrao, Chiang Mai, Thailand
August 3, 2014 6:58 pm
Hi bugman
After the successful answer of my first bug I’m excited to use this site to find all the names of the bugs I’ve been curious about. This is simply a dragonfly I found in Thailand, March 2012. Wanted to find out what the name of this was because this was the only one I found during my time there that was black compared to the more common dragonflies in the area which were all vibrant in color.
Signature: PsychPeter

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Dear PsychPeter,
We have a very difficult time with North American Dragonflies despite there being so many sites devoted to North American Dragonflies.  Male and female Dragonflies often exhibit pronounced sexual dimorphism, meaning the sexes can look like different species.  Also, male Dragonflies often change drastically between the time they initially metamorphose into winged adults, the teneral or juvenile stage, and the time they attain sexual maturity.  According to BugGuide:  “They are usually pale and unmarked; they acquire adult coloring and markings over the next several days (it can take more than a week to reach sexual maturity.)”  We found a very similar looking Dragonfly on Shutterstock, but it is not identified to the species level.

Update:  August 5, 2014 12:10 am
Hi,
the unknown dragonfly from Thailand posted by PsychPeter is certainly a male of  Neurothemis tullia (Drury 1773). Its wing design is very characteristic. You may compare the pictures in this link:
http://thaiodonata.blogspot.de/2011/03/neurothemis-tullia.html  or wikipedia…
Regards, Erwin
Signature: Erwin M. Beyer

Letter 6 – Dragonfly from Israel

 

Subject: What dragonfly is this
Location: Nazareth, Israel
July 28, 2015 12:01 pm
Help me identify this
Signature: Raed

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Dear Raed,
Wow, we just responded as an anagram.  We believe this may be a Southern Darter,
Sympetrum meridionale, based on this Getty Images posting.  We don’t read French, but there appears to be some information on the Nature 22 site.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Letter 7 – Dragonfly from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Dragonfly
Location: Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
January 21, 2016 7:56 am
Hi there
Please can you tell me what dragonfly this is. It was at Arenal Volcano National Park near Lago Los Patos.
Thanks
Signature: Steph

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Dear Steph,
Thanks for sending a higher resolution image.  The more detail in the image, the easier it is to make an ID.  We searched the database of Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonata) of Costa Rica and the closest match we could locate there is
Erythrodiplax berenice.  We crosschecked that on The Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey, where we learned it is called a Seaside Dragonlet, and on BugGuide, and though we see a similarity, we do not believe the species is correct.  We are posting your image and we hope one of our readers will write in with a more conclusive identification.

Letter 8 – Dragonfly is Prince Baskettail

 

Subject: Twelve spotted Skimmer?
Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
July 12, 2016 10:10 pm
Saved this bug from the neighbor’s little dog who was trying to figure out if it was edible. Pics were taken mid-May in Mount Pleasant, SC approx. 3 mi. from the Atlantic shore. I think this is a female twelve spotted skimmer, but coloration of lateral line on abdomen (orange, not yellow) and thin size of the body makes me wonder. What do you think?
Signature: Wormkat

Dragonfly
Prince Baskettail

Dear Wormkat,
The only Dragonflies that we know of that have twelve spots on the wings are the Twelve Spotted Skimmer, which is pictured on BugGuide, and the Female Whitetail, which is also pictured on Bugguide, and though the wings on your individual looks similar to both, the body is quite different.  Perhaps one of our readers with more experience identifying Dragonflies will be able to assist in this identification.

Dragonfly
Prince Baskettail

Update:  July 14, 2016
We would like to send out a special thanks to Michael Davis, Cesar Crash and Susan B., all of whom commented and led us to the correct identification of this Prince Baskettail,
Epitheca princeps.  According to BugGuide:  “Flies constantly. Wing pattern resembles that of some skimmer, but narrow body shape is distinctive. Wings held in a slight dihedral (V) while flying.”

Thank you for the response.  I am an ecologist with a special focus on aquatic species and this one threw me for a loop… ( in my own back yard!)  Any help figuring out what this little guy is would be fantastic, I hate not knowing!!!  Thanks a million in advance and BUG ON!!!
Best Regards,
Steve Walker
Ecologist

Letter 9 – Dragonfly from India

 

Subject:  A great shot of Ditch Jewel Dragonfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Ranip, Ahmedabad City, Gujarat, India
Date: 10/17/2018
Time: 02:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi , great to notice a wonderful site like this. I have taken this wonderful snap of probable ” Ditch Jewel Dragonfly” at my home garden. I want you to confirm its species indetity. You can freely use it on your website.
How you want your letter signed:  SHDNEURO

Dragonfly

Dear SHDNEURO,
We agree that this is a beautiful image of a Dragonfly, and based on images posted to Odonata of India, it might be a female Ditch Jewel,
Brachythemis contaminata.

 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Dragonfly from Finland

 

Dragonfly photo in awe of your site
I’ve been browsing your site quite a lot lately and as there’s never too much good Dragonfly pictures I thought I would like to give my pic out for you if you like it. Of course I would be interested if you’d have more accurate description of the species or just a point out to something very similiar species on your website.
details:
Location: Europe/Finland/Southern-Finland.
Time: Summer Weather: Sunny, around + 20-25C
Place: countryside, big bush with lots of different coloured dragonflies circling around.
Lauri Mäki
Finland/Espoo

Hi Lauri,
Identifying different species of Dragonflies is not our strong point, but we believe this is one of the Skimmers.

Update: Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 2:38 AM
Good morning,
If I may, it is definitly a memeber of the Sympetrum genus (Meadowhawk in english), most certainly a form of Sympetrum striolatum..
I hope this helps,
Renaud, Switzerland

Letter 2 – Dragonfly from Rwanda

 

rwandan dragonfly at lake kivu 2
location:  Lake Kivu, Rwanda, Africa
August 3, 2012
hi daniel, can you determine the species of this colorful insect? thanks! clare.

Magenta Dragonfly from Rwanda

Hi Clare,
Your photo is lovely as is this magenta Dragonfly.  Sadly, we cannot seem to locate our copy of the Field Guide to Rwandan Dragonflies on the book shelf.  That was a joke.  We often have tremendous difficulty distinguishing our numerous North American species from one another since so many species resemble one another.  We couldn’t find any color matches on Grag Lasley’s African Dragonflies and Damselflies Index.  There are nearly 5000 photos posted to Africa Dragonfly and 908 species are listed and classified, but we cannot envision having enough time to click through them all.  We typed dragonfly and Africa into a search engine and we were surprised to find a close visual match, but alas, it led us to a Texas website with an online article entitled Aerial Acrobats, but there is no information on the species in the photo, or even a location where the photo was taken, though the Dragonflies in the show are supposed to be Texas species.  We are sorry that we cannot offer anything more concrete.

Letter 3 – Dragonfly from France

 

Subject: Saw this in Languedoc, France
Location: Languedoc, Mediterranean Coast, Southern France
January 28, 2013 4:40 pm
Hi Bugman, I cycled through masses of these by a canal in long grass in Languedoc, Southern France last September. Any idea what it is please? Thanks.
Signature: Chris Sherwell

Dragonfly

Dear Chris,
This is some species of Dragonfly.  Though they are revered in some countries like Japan, Dragonflies more than most insects are saddled with a plethora of maleficent common names including Devil’s Darning Needle, Ear Cutter, Snake Doctor and Eye Poker.  Many countries have odd superstitions and lore centered on Dragonflies and they are feared unnecessarily by many.  Dragonflies are beneficial predators that help control the populations of troublesome insects like mosquitoes.  Dragonflies will not sting nor bite humans.  While we don’t recognize this species, we did locate a photo on FlickR that appears to be the same species and it is also from France.

Update:  February 2, 2013
Hi Bugman, with your expertise as a starting point I’ve trawled the web for photos and found out it was a female Red Veined Darter. “Sympetrum fonscolombii can be seen on the wing throughout the year around the Mediterranean” – bang on for where we saw it in Southern France.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-veined_darter
Here’s a photo that almost matches mine!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25572396@N04/8152590534/in/photostream
Thanks for your help. The web would be a poorer place without people like you!
Rgds, Chris,

Thanks so much for the update.

Letter 4 – Dragonfly from Peru: Diastatops intensa

 

Subject: Fancy Peruvian Dragonfly?
Location: Loreto region, Peru
May 11, 2014 10:22 pm
Hi Mr Bugman,
I saw this very cool dragonfly in the Loreto region of Peru a few years back. I’m stumped as to what it might be. Any Ideas?
Thanks
Signature: Katie

Unknown Dragonfly
Unknown Dragonfly

Hi Katie,
This truly is a stunning Dragonfly.
  It appears to be Diastatops intensa, based on images posted to American Dragonfly.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for such a quick reply! That is exactly what it looks like.
Cheers
Katie

Letter 5 – Dragonfly from Thailand: Neurothemis tullia

 

Subject: What the name?
Location: Phrao, Chiang Mai, Thailand
August 3, 2014 6:58 pm
Hi bugman
After the successful answer of my first bug I’m excited to use this site to find all the names of the bugs I’ve been curious about. This is simply a dragonfly I found in Thailand, March 2012. Wanted to find out what the name of this was because this was the only one I found during my time there that was black compared to the more common dragonflies in the area which were all vibrant in color.
Signature: PsychPeter

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Dear PsychPeter,
We have a very difficult time with North American Dragonflies despite there being so many sites devoted to North American Dragonflies.  Male and female Dragonflies often exhibit pronounced sexual dimorphism, meaning the sexes can look like different species.  Also, male Dragonflies often change drastically between the time they initially metamorphose into winged adults, the teneral or juvenile stage, and the time they attain sexual maturity.  According to BugGuide:  “They are usually pale and unmarked; they acquire adult coloring and markings over the next several days (it can take more than a week to reach sexual maturity.)”  We found a very similar looking Dragonfly on Shutterstock, but it is not identified to the species level.

Update:  August 5, 2014 12:10 am
Hi,
the unknown dragonfly from Thailand posted by PsychPeter is certainly a male of  Neurothemis tullia (Drury 1773). Its wing design is very characteristic. You may compare the pictures in this link:
http://thaiodonata.blogspot.de/2011/03/neurothemis-tullia.html  or wikipedia…
Regards, Erwin
Signature: Erwin M. Beyer

Letter 6 – Dragonfly from Israel

 

Subject: What dragonfly is this
Location: Nazareth, Israel
July 28, 2015 12:01 pm
Help me identify this
Signature: Raed

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Dear Raed,
Wow, we just responded as an anagram.  We believe this may be a Southern Darter,
Sympetrum meridionale, based on this Getty Images posting.  We don’t read French, but there appears to be some information on the Nature 22 site.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Letter 7 – Dragonfly from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Dragonfly
Location: Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
January 21, 2016 7:56 am
Hi there
Please can you tell me what dragonfly this is. It was at Arenal Volcano National Park near Lago Los Patos.
Thanks
Signature: Steph

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Dear Steph,
Thanks for sending a higher resolution image.  The more detail in the image, the easier it is to make an ID.  We searched the database of Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonata) of Costa Rica and the closest match we could locate there is
Erythrodiplax berenice.  We crosschecked that on The Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey, where we learned it is called a Seaside Dragonlet, and on BugGuide, and though we see a similarity, we do not believe the species is correct.  We are posting your image and we hope one of our readers will write in with a more conclusive identification.

Letter 8 – Dragonfly is Prince Baskettail

 

Subject: Twelve spotted Skimmer?
Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
July 12, 2016 10:10 pm
Saved this bug from the neighbor’s little dog who was trying to figure out if it was edible. Pics were taken mid-May in Mount Pleasant, SC approx. 3 mi. from the Atlantic shore. I think this is a female twelve spotted skimmer, but coloration of lateral line on abdomen (orange, not yellow) and thin size of the body makes me wonder. What do you think?
Signature: Wormkat

Dragonfly
Prince Baskettail

Dear Wormkat,
The only Dragonflies that we know of that have twelve spots on the wings are the Twelve Spotted Skimmer, which is pictured on BugGuide, and the Female Whitetail, which is also pictured on Bugguide, and though the wings on your individual looks similar to both, the body is quite different.  Perhaps one of our readers with more experience identifying Dragonflies will be able to assist in this identification.

Dragonfly
Prince Baskettail

Update:  July 14, 2016
We would like to send out a special thanks to Michael Davis, Cesar Crash and Susan B., all of whom commented and led us to the correct identification of this Prince Baskettail,
Epitheca princeps.  According to BugGuide:  “Flies constantly. Wing pattern resembles that of some skimmer, but narrow body shape is distinctive. Wings held in a slight dihedral (V) while flying.”

Thank you for the response.  I am an ecologist with a special focus on aquatic species and this one threw me for a loop… ( in my own back yard!)  Any help figuring out what this little guy is would be fantastic, I hate not knowing!!!  Thanks a million in advance and BUG ON!!!
Best Regards,
Steve Walker
Ecologist

Letter 9 – Dragonfly from India

 

Subject:  A great shot of Ditch Jewel Dragonfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Ranip, Ahmedabad City, Gujarat, India
Date: 10/17/2018
Time: 02:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi , great to notice a wonderful site like this. I have taken this wonderful snap of probable ” Ditch Jewel Dragonfly” at my home garden. I want you to confirm its species indetity. You can freely use it on your website.
How you want your letter signed:  SHDNEURO

Dragonfly

Dear SHDNEURO,
We agree that this is a beautiful image of a Dragonfly, and based on images posted to Odonata of India, it might be a female Ditch Jewel,
Brachythemis contaminata.

 

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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9 thoughts on “Where Do Dragonflies Live: Uncovering Their Diverse Habitats”

  1. Good morning,

    If I may, it is definitly a memeber of the Sympetrum genus (Meadowhawk in english), most certainly a form of Sympetrum striolatum..

    I hope this helps,
    Renaud, Switzerland

    Reply
    • We looked up the genus Zenithoptera, and all examples, including the individual posted on Greg Lasley Nature Photography, have blue wings and none have the red hind wings or body. We will stick to our identification of Diastatops intensa until we can locate a visual match that is closer.

      Reply
  2. I’m not an expert by any means, but to me it looks a lot like the prince baskettail, Epitheca princeps, which is found in Easten North America, which includes Mount Pleasant, SC.

    Reply
  3. While female and immature male twelve-spotted-skimmers look similar to that (without the white coating on the abdomen, the abdomen looks dark with yellow triangles on each segment), the eyes don’t look right to me. This dragonfly’s eyes meet at a point, while most skimmers’ eyes meet along a line down the middle.

    I think I’d agree with Michael Davis that it could be a prince baskettail.

    Reply
  4. While female and immature male twelve-spotted-skimmers look similar to that (without the white coating on the abdomen, the abdomen looks dark with yellow triangles on each segment), the eyes don’t look right to me. This dragonfly’s eyes meet at a point, while most skimmers’ eyes meet along a line down the middle.

    I think I’d agree with Michael Davis that it could be a prince baskettail.

    Reply

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