Odonata of NM

Western Pondhawks

Map Page: Where to find Dragonflies in Albuquerque

On this Page:

Photos of Odonate Larva

Recommended Books, Guides, and Links


Dragonflies and damselflies are insects of the order Odonata. They are fierce predators of small insects. Some species fly back and forth over water or fields hunting small insects, while other species hunt from a perch waiting for their prey to fly into range. Like little helicopters these insects fly in six directions: upward, downward, forward, back, and side to side. They are widespread in the Southwest, but are usually found near water such as our Rio Grande Bosque or nearby fields.

They have large, multifaceted eyes that provide wide angle vision; two pairs of strong transparent wings & six legs attached to a muscular Thorax; and a long slender Abdomen. Males are generally more colorful than the females.

Dragonflies and damselflies breed in ponds, marshes and slow ditches. The females lay their eggs into water or in some species actually insert the eggs into plants. Eggs hatch into tiny larva called nymphs. These nymphs live underwater, catching tiny insects such as mosquito larva for food. As they grow they will molt up to a dozen times because their skin does not stretch. They live in the water often for several months before climbing out of the water to spread their wings and fly. Most dragonflies only live for a few months and damselflies for even shorter lengths of time.

When perched dragonflies hold their wings open and outstretched, while the smaller damselflies typically hold their wings folded back along their body. I've added a few links to Odonata web sites below the gallery index photos.

I took my first dragonfly photo on July 17, 2010 and have been hooked ever since. I love the progression of the seasons in New Mexico, but will miss these amazing fliers once the warmth of summer is truly past.

Return Visitor? View the 12 most recently uploaded images.

My 2012 Gallery of Dragonflies and Damselflies on Google

Click on the species gallery you wish to view.

Dragonflies of New Mexico

Not a compehensive list of New Mexico dragonflies, only those that I've managed to photograph.

  Skimmer Family

Blue Dasher

6 images

Marl Pennant

2 images

  Clubtail Family

The former North American subgenera of Gomphus have been split up into four genera: Phanogomphus, Gomphurus, Hylogomphus, and Stenogomphurus. Species nomenclature on the photographs does not reflect the new classification.

  Darner Family

Currently there are 179 dragonfly images representing 48 species in the photo database.

Damselflies of New Mexico

Not a compehensive list of New Mexico damselflies, only those that I've managed to photograph.

  Broad-winged Damsel Family

  Pond Damsel Family

Arroyo Bluet

6 images

Aztec Dancer

9 images

Boreal Bluet

3 images

Dusky Dancer

2 images

Sooty Dancer

2 images

Tule Bluet

5 images

  Spreadwing Family

Currently there are 103 damselfly images representing 26 species in the photo database.

Currently there are 282 Odonata images representing 74 species in the photo database.

Odonate Larva

Odonate Larva
I thought this was probably a damselfly larva based on size and eye placement on the head, but I've
been informed by someone way more knowledgable than I, that it is actually a Skimmer nymph, maybe a Meadowhawk or Dasher.

Larval Labium
The wildlife specialist is demonstrating how the nymph's labium (lower jaw structure) extends.
These predators reach out with the labium to grab their prey lightning quick.

Recommended Books and Guides:

My main reference guide is Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West (Princeton Field Guides), Dennis Paulson, 2009
It's very comprehensive and informative, yet understandable by those just starting out.

I use this eBook guide in the field via the Kindle app. on my smart phone:
Dragonflies of California and the Greater Southwest A Beginner's Guide by Kathy Biggs.

If you are past the beginner stage, you might benefit from this excellent book:
Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States:
Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico
by John Abbott.
You may be able to find this title used at a lower price.

Links about Odonates:

General Article on the dragonfly at Wikipedia

OdonataCentral makes use of relational databases to dynamically generate maps, checklists, and accompanying data.

Odonata Central - Bernalillo County Checklist & Records

Odonata Central - Sandoval County Checklist & Records

Dragonflies of the Southwest

I would be happy to answer your questions or read your comments, please use the email link in the header.

variegated meadowhawk

All photos © Bosque Bill - Absolutely no use without prior written permission. Thanks.  

 August 11, 2022