Difference Between Dragonfly and Damselfly (With Table)

During summer, alongside other insects, we see an abundance of dragonflies which represent an attractive, ancient-looking, vibrant, and a popular species of predacious insects. However, in real life, the real dragonflies are not the only representatives of the insect group-Odonata. Due to its comparable biological categorization and resemblance to dragonflies, it additionally includes a connatural group known as damselflies.

300 million-year-old fossil discoveries show how dragonflies and damselflies were amongst the biggest winged invertebrates that ever wandered the globe and how they later evolved to present-day species. Some species of Dragonflies and damselflies usually prevail in tropical zones and can likewise be observed in just about every portion of the globe apart from the frigid zones. Around the globe, there are about 5900 species of Odonatas (out of which approximately 2600 species are damselflies and 3000 species are dragonflies) with about 500 species observed in India.

Dragonfly vs Damselfly

The main difference between dragonfly and damselfly is that Dragonflies often have a broad and stubby body, eyes connect each other at a certain point, the front set of wings are comparatively bigger than the hinder set of wings and while resting, the wings are held in an upright position whereas Damselflies have a slender and lengthened body, the eyes do not connect at a certain point, both sets of wings are collectively identical in structure and width and while resting, the wings are nuzzled at the side of their body.

Dragonflies and damselflies are quite similar and could perhaps appear as twins for they are both unmistakably quick, tend to eat insects, easy to spot, breed in freshwater (may even include waterfalls or standing water), expert hunters, have surprisingly mesmerizing characteristics, remarkable flying and aerobatic ability, deepwater larvae, and a captivating life process. They are helpful to people as well. Adult Odonatas possess exceedingly strong jaws, forelimbs, and two sets of wings to capture a multitude of harmful insects like mosquitoes and other flies that cause dangerous insect-borne diseases.

Even so, detailed observation establishes precise indications/hints that even amateurs can utilize to point out the differences between a dragonfly and a damselfly.


Comparison Table Between Dragonfly and Damselfly (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of Comparison




Dragonflies are of the sub-order Anisoptera and they are long-bodied insects that have four transparent wings that are spread in an upright position along the side of their bodies when they rest.

Damselflies are of the sub-order Zygoptera and are slender insects with wings folded at the rear of their body when they rest.

Wing shape and size

The wings of a dragonfly are unequal in size and shape. The shape of the wing is broader.

The wings of a damselfly are equal in size and shape. The shape of the wing is narrower.

Eye shape

The eyes of the dragonfly are larger as the eyes cover the majority of their head.

The eyes of the damselfly are large but there is a certain amount of space between them.


To respirate in deepwater, the larvae of the dragonfly uses rectal tracheal gills.

To respirate in deep water, the larvae of the damselfly uses caudal gills.


Dragonflies are known as fliers and travel a longer distance.

Damselflies are known as perchers and travel short distances.


The thorax of the dragonfly is broader than the abdomen.

The thorax of the damselfly is narrower than the abdomen.


What is Dragonfly?

Dragonfly also known as devil’s arrow or darner are swift flying insect with two pairs of transparent wings which belong to the order Odonata and sub-order Anisoptera. They are additionally considered to have long-bodies and sometimes hued patches on their bodies. The wing of the dragonfly is shaped differently. The wingspan of the dragonfly is 16cm. A dragonfly’s eyes have 24000 ommatidia each. Dragonflies vary in hues and are predators. Dragonflies like any other insects have three segments i.e, the head, thorax, and the abdomen.

The fossils of large dragonflies called Protodonata were found 325 million years ago. There are presently 3000 existing species of dragonflies globally ranging from 20mm to 16cm and they are further classified into 348 genera in 11 families. Some of the most common dragonfly species are hawker, migrant hawker, broad-bodied chaser, common darter, and so on. Dragonflies mostly feed on mosquitoes, moths, butterflies, and even smaller dragonflies.

Dragonflies are said to spend several years of their life in the larvae stage and are known as nymphs. Nymphs feed on tadpoles or smaller fish. Nymphs sometimes prefer flowing water or standing water. Male dragonflies are considered territorial and shield their domains from other insects. Dragonflies reproduce by indirect insemination, sperm competition, and delayed fertilization.

The female dragonflies reproduce 1500 eggs at a time. Most dragonflies live in the tropical and very few live in the temperate zones. Dragonflies live in every continent except in Antarctica. The altitudinal limit of dragonflies is 3700m. Dragonflies can fly up to a speed of 97 km/h and their life expectancy is approximately 6 months.

What is Damselfly?

Damselfly refers to a slender insect which belong to the order Odonata and sub-order Zygoptera. Damselflies are comparatively smaller and they fold their wing when they rest. The size of the damselflies two pair of wings is of the same size and shape. The wingspan of a damselfly is 19cm and the length of the body is 13cm. Damselflies came into origin almost 251 million years ago.

There are approximately 2600 species of damselflies and they range from 18mm to 19cm. Damselflies are additionally considered predatory species. Male damselflies are considered more colorful than the female damselflies. Damselflies also reproduce using direct insemination and delayed fertilization. The eyes of the damselfly are widely separated rather than being close together unlike that of a dragonfly.

Damselflies also live in every continent except in Antarctica. Adult damselflies eat flies, and other smaller insects. Damselflies have a weak flight. Damselflies mostly stay near the water surfaces. Some of the most common damselflies species are the blue-tailed damselfly, red damselfly, emerald damselfly, etc.

Immature damselflies known as larvae or nymphs are aquatic and mostly stay near water bodies like lakes or ponds. And after the larvae stage the damselfly emerges from the water and flies to either feed or mate. Damselflies can fly at a speed of 10 mph. The life span of a damselfly is approximately 2 months to 3 years.



In warm, sunny days bug watching dragonflies and damselflies are now a well-liked activity to normal individuals as bird watching seems to be. Dragonflies and damselflies wander about like small, vicious-looking, vibrant, peculiar, and captivating predatory insects and also notify a great many of us about the significance of taking care of our habitat and preserving the ecosystems diversity.

Since dragonflies and damselflies eat disease-bearing insects (like mosquitoes) and are also, in turn, eaten by other dominant species, they are regarded as a fundamental species of the biome. As these Odonatas also require healthy freshwater or earthly domains to flourish, they are ideal volunteers to observe to enlighten us about the general well-being of our ecosystem. 

The above piecework gives the audience an insight on how what dragonflies and damselflies are, where they originate, how their appearances are and how their life-cycle is to make it simpler for individuals, who were not aware of different insects, to identify the differences between dragonflies and damselflies when they see one.


  1. https://bioone.org/journals/northeastern-naturalist/volume-21/issue-4/045.021.0414/Dragonfly-and-Damselfly-Colonization-and-Recolonization-of-a-Large-Semi/10.1656/045.021.0414.short
  2. https://journals.flvc.org/flaent/article/download/79325/76669