Damselflies

Order Odonata

Introduction

Damselflies, Western AustraliaDamselflies have been around for about 200 million years and belong to the Order Odonata. Odonata means "tooth-jawed" and comes from a classification system developed by the 18th century entomologist (person who studies insects), Johann Christian Fabricius.There are over 100 species of damselflies in Australia. The damselfly like the dragonfly are found near freshwater habitats.

Tell the Difference Between a Damselfly and a Dragonfly

The main difference between a damselfly and a dragonfly is when the insects are at rest, the dragonfly's wings are held away from the body (at 180 degrees) and the damselfly's wings are held close to the body.

Characteristics of a Damselfly

The damselfly has its eyes on the sides of its head and are capable of detecting movement up to 24km (15 miles) making them excellent hunters. They also have chewing mouth-parts, large compound eyes, bristle-like antennae, very long slender bodies and 4 long wings. The wings are net-veined and are powered by thoracic muscles. Each wing is capable of independant motion giving it the ability to change direction instantaneously, even reverse. 
The damselfly has spiny legs situated close to the head and the front legs are bristly to catch prey. The legs also are designed to support the insect long abdomen. The abdomen consists of 10 sements.

Damselfly Lifecycle

Like the dragonfly, the damselfly has three development stages in its life, egg, larva and adult. The damselfly lays eggs in fresh water and once hatched the nymphs (larvae) feed on aquatic animals until they are ready to emerge as winged adults. The nymphs have gills for breathing which are found at the tip of the abdomen. The nymphs undergo an incomplete metamorphosis (change in form) whilst underwater moulting up to 15 times before emerging as an adult. As an adult, damselflies feed on other flying insects such as mosquitoes and midges.

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