Damsels & Dragons

In trying to identify some photographic subjects last year, I learned that damselflies mostly fold their wings when they alight, whereas dragonflies hold them straight out, like a biplane. There are, of course, other differences, but none quite so easily observed as the position of the wings at rest.

Their aquatic nymph stage is also quite distinct.
Damselflies have three leaf-like gills at the tip of their abdomen,
while the more robust dragonfly nymphs lack these.

This is less than entirely useful, since it is not the nymphs taking flight and landing prettily on my kayak or a nearby lily pad.

So my practice is to wait for the insect to land, and hey presto, at least I know which suborder of Odonata it falls into. Determining which of Ontario’s 27 species of dragonflies or 21 species of damsels – ah, that’s for another day and maybe for another photographer.

Collage of 3 species of dragon- and damselfliesAt least, that was my practice – just wait them out – until this last trip to the lake, where I encountered a flying insect – order Odonata, I’m guessing – that never assumed the at-rest position.

Collage of unidentified Odonata insect, in mid-air



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8 Responses to Damsels & Dragons

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Amazing photography! Catching a whatever’s wings in flight….
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Thanks! I admit I was cursing this (assumed) dragonfly that just would not touch down for even an instant.

  2. Ralph Gibson says:

    Very nice !

    Ancient insects still having fun after all these years.

  3. Such eyes! Do we not feel that way, sometimes, as though our eyes are all-consuming and might allow us to grow such wings to take us to see more and more of what we want to see?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I prefer a bird’s eye, which often have a shine to them and at least sometimes give me a catchlight. Insect eyes are flat/matte, by comparison – but huge in relation to their bodies, for sure.

  4. Jim Robertson says:

    Nicely captured Isabel especially from the kayak

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Thanks! These, however, were taken from the dock. I was pleased that I didn’t fall into the water, though. A moment’s distraction or inattention, a second spent angling for a better angle, and it would have been photoshoot over.

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