The main difference between dragonfly and damselfly is that dragonflies have sturdier and thicker bodies whereas damselflies have longer and thinner bodies. Dragonfly keeps its wings horizontally at rest while damselfly closes its wings at rest.
Dragonfly and damselfly are two predatory insects that belong to the order Odonata. They are the colorful and fascinating insects found in late summer gardens. Generally, it is difficult to identify the difference between dragonfly and damselfly. However, several distinct characteristics such as slender bodies, membranous wings, and large eyes can be used to identify them from each other.
Key Areas Covered
– Definition, Characteristics
– Definition, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Dragonfly and Damselfly
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Dragonfly and Damselfly
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Body, Damselfly, Dragonfly, Eyes, Membranous Wings
Dragonfly – Definition, Characteristics
Dragonfly refers to a fast-flying, long-bodied, predatory insect with two pairs of transparent wings, which are spread out sideways at rest. It belongs to the suborder Anisoptera. The flight of dragonfly is strong and purposeful. It can fly at about 100 body-lengths per second in the forward direction while at about 3 body-lengths per second in the reverse direction.
Dragonflies spend most of their lifetime in the larval stage. Some of the commonly seen dragonflies are broad-bodied chaser, brown, hawker, Southern hawker, migrant hawker, common darter, etc.
Damselfly – Definition, Characteristics
Damselfly refers to a slender insect that rests with wings folded back along the body. It belongs to the suborder Zygoptera. All the four wings of damselfly are similar in size and shape. Damselfly has a weak flight with fluttering.
Generally, damselfly loves water; therefore, it often stays on the water surfaces. Some common damselfly species include large red damselfly, common blue damselfly, azure damselfly, emerald damselfly, and blue-tailed damselfly.
Similarities Between Dragonfly and Damselfly
- Dragonfly and damselfly are predatory insects.
- They are invertebrate arthropods.
- They belong to the order Odonata.
- Both can be found during the late summer.
- Both have four membranous wings with many small veins.
- The wings are attached to the thorax.
- The abdomen is elongated in both types of insects.
- Both have extremely large eyes, minute antennae, a long, slender abdomen, aquatic larvae with posterior tracheal gills, and extendible jaws underneath the head (prehensile labium).
- Both undergo complete metamorphosis.
Difference Between Dragonfly and Damselfly
Dragonfly: A fast-flying, long-bodied, predatory insect with two pairs of transparent wings, which are spread out sideways at rest
Damselfly: A slender insect, resting with the wings folded back along the body
Dragonfly: Anisoptera (unequal winged)
Damselfly: Zygoptera (yoke-winged)
Dragonfly: Broadly rounded eyes
Damselfly: Spherical eyes
Dragonfly: Eyes touch or nearly touch the top of the head
Damselfly: Eyes are clearly separated at each side of the head
Dragonfly: Large (3 inches long)
Damselfly: Comparatively small
Damselfly: Long and slender
Dragonfly: Thorax is broader than abdomen
Damselfly: Thorax is narrow and has the same width as the abdomen
Dragonfly: Dissimilar wing pairs; hindwing is broader at the base
Damselfly: Similar wing pairs in both size and shape
Dragonfly: Known as fliers; covers a long distance
Damselfly: Known as perchers; only covers a short distance
Dragonfly: Does not prefer water
Damselfly: Likes water and tend to fly to water sources
Position of the Wings at Rest
Dragonfly: Wings held open either horizontally or downwards
Damselfly: Wings held closed over the abdomen
Dragonfly: Discal cell is divided into triangles
Damselfly: Discal cell is undivided and quadrilateral
Dragonfly: Pair of superior anal appendages and a single inferior appendage
Damselfly: Two pairs of anal appendages
Dragonfly: Have vestigial ovipositors
Damselfly: Have functional ovipositors
Dragonfly: Large and round (0.5 mm long)
Damselfly: Cylindrical and longer (1 mm long)
Dragonfly: Breathe through rectal tracheal gills; stocky bodies
Damselfly: Breathe through caudal gills; slender bodies
Dragonfly is large and stockier while damselfly is small and has a slender body. Both have a narrow and long abdomen. But, the abdomen of the dragonfly is broader compared to the abdomen of the damselfly. Also, dragonfly keeps their wings horizontally at rest while damselfly closes their wings at rest. The main difference between dragonfly and damselfly is the size and the shape of the body and the wings.
1. “Dragonfly.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Mar. 2018,
2. “Damselflies.” British-Dragonflies.org.uk,
1. “Sympetrum flaveolum – side (aka)” By André Karwath aka Aka – Own work via
2. “Damselfly October 2007 Osaka Japan” By LaitcheLink to My Website. – Own work (Public Domain) via