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.
Currently there are 148 dragonfly images representing 39 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
Currently there are 94 damselfly images representing 23 species in the photo database.
Currently there are 242 Odonata images representing 62 species in the photo database.