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ISM System :Introduction to Dragonflys and Damselflys
Dragonfly & Damselfly Collection
Photo Gallery


There are about 5,000 species of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) in the world. About 147 species have been reported to be present in Illinois.

Anatomy of Dragonflies and Damselflies
photograph of Axas junius asultBeing insects, dragonflies and damselflies have an exoskeleton, three pairs of legs, and three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. Both have large, compound eyes, short, bristle-like antennae, and four long membranous wings.Damselflies can be distinguished by their more delicate features and by their carrying their wings vertically over their abdomen. Dragonflies are often more robust in structure and they carry their wings horizontally when resting.

Green Darner (Anax junius)

Life Cycle
photograph of slender spreadwing damselflyThe stages of dragonflies and damselflies are the egg, the larva (nymph), and the adult. In the spring the female adult deposits eggs in floating plant debris, or in a few species, such as the darner, has an ovipositor with which she deposits eggs into the stems of water plants.

Slender Spreadwing Damselfly (Lestes rectangulares)

Three weeks later, the young larva emerges into the water, where it feeds on small aquatic animals and molts several times over about eleven months. Then the mature nymph walks out of the water and splits open its skin, from which a winged adult emerges. An adult dragonfly spends most of its time over land feeding on insects as it flies.

Related Activities:
Dragonfly Anatomy (Art) (html) (pdf)
Dragonfly Poster (html) (pdf)

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