The Odonata is one of the most recognizable orders of insect which encompasses both Dragonflies and Damselflies. There are some 5,500 found in North America. Over 450 of these are found throughout the United States and Canada alone. Dragonflies are more common and both share physical characteristics and behaviors. Odonates are found near fresh water sources and are active most pleasant sunny days. Color patterns vary iwdly as well as wing designs and overall sizes can be up to 5 inches (see: Giant Darner). The bulging eyes are set to the sides of the head and each contains thousands of honeycomb-like lenses providing excellent vision (especially with moving targets). Six legs are utilized for capturing prey or landing on or grabbing reeds and plants. The dragonfly’s wings are distinctly veined and appear as two pairs of rigid appendages connecting to the spine. When resting, Dragonflies generally lay their wings flat while Damselflies will typically hold their more elegant tear drop-shaped wings close together and away from or above the body. Odonates are great pilots and can seem to hover at times and they can even mate in mid-flight. A female Dragonfly can lay one egg or several and these deposits are usually found in or near water sources. Life cycles of Odonates vary- some only live a single month while others cover years.
Odonates feed on a variety of food that include the dreaded mosquito and other small insects like gnats. They do not sting and provide no serious threat to people – they are especially good for pest control across backyards and gardens. Males become highly protective of established mating territories and will battle with other males while on the look out for available females. Darners are very typical dragonflies and include the Common Green Darner, the Giant Darner and the Blue-Eyed Darner. Some Damselflies can be easily mistaken for Dragonflies because of close physical similarities.