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Damselfly

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Damselfly
Blue Damselfly.jpg
Scientific Classification
Families
  • Amphipterygidae
  • Calopterygidae (Demoiselles)
  • Chlorocyphidae (Jewels)
  • Coenagrionidae (Pond Damselflies)
  • Dicteriadidae (Barelegs)
  • Euphaeidae (Gossamerwings)
  • Hemiphlebidae (Reedlings)
  • Isosticidae (Narrow-wings)
  • Lestidae (Spreadwings)
  • Lestoididae
  • Megapodagrionidae (Flatwings)
  • Perilestidae (Shortwings)
  • Platycnemididae (White-legged Damselflies)
  • Platystictidae (Forest Damselflies)
  • Polythoridae (Bannerwings)
  • Protoneuridae (Pinflies)
  • Pseudostigmatidae (Forest Giants)
  • Synlestidae (Sylphs)
  • Zacallitidae
Black Winged Damselfly
Close Up Of Damselfly.jpg

Damselflies are any of the predatory insect species belonging to the taxonomic suborder Zygoptera. They are beautiful creatures that are very unique. One unique thing about them is how they have a three-stage life cycle (incomplete metamorphosis) which most insects do not have. Once the female has laid her eggs in the water they will generally hatch after 2-5 weeks. Sometimes though, when they have laid there eggs in the late summer the eggs will go into a diapause (which is when the growth period is suspended [1])over the winter months then hatch in the spring because it is to cold in the winter time. If that does happen the larva will remain a larva for around 1 to 2 years. When the larva is finally ready it will come out of the water, usually on a long strand of grass or a reed, and molt off the old skin and become an adult. The adults do not live very long; they only live for just a few weeks. [2]

Contents

Anatomy

Ischnura Aurora (Damselfly)

The Damselfly has a common insect like body, with an abdomen, six legs, four wings, a thorax, and an exoskeleton that forms into a head. There are certain parts to the Damselfly that makes it unique and different from the Dragonfly.

Head The Damselfly's head is rather big and the majority of it is taken up with the two compound eyes that are farther up on the head and is towards the side. Each compound eye is made up of thousands of facets, lens like visual units. Beneath the eyes there are the chewing mouthparts, which it eats its food with. The central plate, which is positioned right below the compound eyes and right above the mouthpart, is separated from the frons, a frontal lobe. Also near the compound eyes are the antennas.

Thorax The thorax has two segments; the prothorax and the pterothorax. The prothorax is right next to the head and contains the front two legs where as the pterothorax is the midsection that contains the other two legs. The pterothorax also contains the wings and the flight muscles which helps it fly.

Legs The legs on a Damselfly have three main parts; femur, tibia, and tarsus. In the tarsus there are three segments and at the end of them there are two claws with spiny spurs lining the femur and tibia. The legs on a Damselfly are not used for walking instead they use them for perching, scooping up and handling prey, and the front two legs they use them for grooming their head.

Abdomen There are ten segments in the abdomen. In the segments there are a couple main parts; the sexual appendages and the secondary genitalia of males. In the secondary genitalia you can see the hamules (hook like structures) visible from the eye. For male damselflies the sexual appendage is used to grasp the female during mating by the rear of the thorax. The females have an ovipositor which contains paired valves and cutting blades, that is used for inserting eggs into; mud, plant tissue, or some other kind of substrate.[3]

Reproduction

Common Blue Damselfly Mating
The Damselfly and the Dragonfly have almost the same type of reproduction. The male Damselflies will find a good breeding ground which then becomes his territory. If another male attempts to take his territory he will then try to drive him away by showing better body color, flying skill, being larger in size or some other advantage he has. The females will then come into the males territory when they are ready to mate or lay eggs. If the Damselflies do have courtship, then after the female comes into the territory she will inspect it to make sure it is good enough for her. If she approves they start mating if she doesn’t she goes on to the next one. How you know if the female has accepted the male is she will let the male grab her thorax with his legs then they will start the mating sequence of grasping and clasping. When she does not accept them she will curve her abdomen downward. For a couple of species after the female has entered the territory the male will instantly come and grasp and clasp her then they will mate, this is different because you will not see them court. Now for the non-territory damselfly's there will be courtship and a recognition stage. In this stage the males will fight after the female and the female will then choose one male and mate with him. When the Damselflies start to mate the male will grasp the females thorax, this action usually takes less then a second to do. The next part is when the male is in the tandem position, when the males have taken hold of the females head. They could be in this position from a couple seconds to a couple of minutes; they even will fly while in this position. After they have been in the tandem position for awhile and the males sperm is ready the male will go into the next stage which is copulation. If the female is ready to receive the sperm she bends her abdomen up to the males genitalia, when they do this they form the wheel position. After they have done this the mating has been completed. This is the most common form of reproduction for damselflies. Sometimes once they are done the male will hold the female in the tandem again so he knows she will not mate with other males before she lays her eggs. [4]

Ecology

Damselfly Larva

You can find Damselflies near; creeks, ponds, bogs, lakes, waterfalls and many rivers. Many of them like slow running water with reeds, rocks, and other plants where they can mate and lay there eggs.[5] The metamorphosis for Damselflies is different then a normal metamorphosis because they don't have a pupa stage. The larva will spend one to three years in the water by using its tail to breathe. It also will feed on mosquito larva for its food. Right before it molts its last skin and becomes an adult it will climb up from the water. Once it is an adult it will only live for a few weeks. [6] Damselflies like to eat insects such as; a mosquito, midges, flies and winged ants. They will eat all insects that they can by using their front two legs and chewing them up with their mouthparts.[7]

Interesting Facts

  • There are over 5,300 known species of Damselflies in the world today.
  • They can fly up to 30 mph.
  • They can move their front and back wings individually if they want to stop and go in a different direction
  • There eyes are able to see objects up to 15m away from them.
  • Odonata means "toothed jaw", Damselflies has huge mouth parts to crush there prey with.[8]
  • When at rest the Damselfly holds its wings at its side whereas Dragonflies don't .[9]
  • Some Damselflies live for 6 or 7 months if in very hot and dry climates.
  • Majority of Damselflies you can find in the tropics. [10]

Gallery

References

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