Stunning Damselfly and Dragonfly Photography Slideshow

The elegance of the damselfly and dragonfly species of eastern North America is demonstrated in this slideshow of brilliant images. Plus, use these dragonfly photography tips and capture stunning images of your own.



Calico Pennant Male
Calico Pennant male obelisking: Dragonflies perch in many ways. They can elevate or lower their abdomen with ease, and they can make it perpendicular to the sun’s rays in the morning and evening to warm it maximally or point it directly at the sun at midday (obelisking) to minimize solar radiation falling on them. 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Sweetflag Spreadwing
Learn how to study, photograph and identify 336 dragonfly and damselfly species with Dennis Paulson's fully illustrated field guide, “Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East.” Captured here are a Sweetflag Spreadwing male and Ruby Meadowhawk male.
PHOTO: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Rainbow Bluet Female
Rainbow Bluet female with leafhopper: Most dragonflies take small prey, much smaller than themselves. 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Eastern Pondhawk Male
Eastern Pondhawk male with female Variable Dancer: Odonates are all predators in both adult and larval stages. Dragonflies that routinely take large prey are among the most effective biters when captured! 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Red Saddlebags Female
Red Saddlebags female landing: One of the many special things about dragonflies is their superb flight ability. All four wings can be moved independently. 
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Red Saddlebags Male
Tricolored Heron with male Red Saddlebags: Dragonflies have their good vision and swift and agile flight to protect them from predators, but sometimes it isn’t enough.
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Plains Clubtail
Plains Clubtail copulation: Copulation lasts from a few seconds (some species mate in flight) to several hours in different odonate species.
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Common Green Darner
Common Green Darner copulation: Where odonates meet to mate has been called the rendezvous. This is usually at the water; however, some species can copulate in midair.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Skimming
Skimming Bluet pair with water mites: Odonates have parasites just like all other animals, but a few types are evident to even the casual naturalist.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Spreadwing
Great Spreadwing tandem: Female dragonflies that have mated often have marks on their eyes where the male epiproct has scratched or even punctured the eyes.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Dragonhunter A
Metamorphosis and Emergence: The dragonfly larva fixes itself to the substrate.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Meadowhawk
Band-winged Meadowhawk in tandem with Eastern Amberwing: Male odonates attempt to mate with females not of their own species with a fairly high frequency. Apparently, recognition in some groups is not achieved until there is a tandem attempt, and the male and female structures that hook together during tandem do not quite fit.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Dragonhunter B
Metamorphosis and Emergence: The larva expands its thorax until a split appears.
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Dragonhunter C
Metamorphosis and Emergence: The larva emerges through the split and hangs backward from the larval skin.
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Dragonhunter D
Metamorphosis and Emergence: After its cuticle hardens for a while and its muscles become stronger, the larva reaches up and pulls itself out of the exuvia.
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Bluet Male and Female
Northern Bluet male and female emergence: After emerging, the color pattern of a sexually maturing odonate may change over a course of days or weeks or even months as the individual becomes sexually mature and returns to the water.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Dragonhunter E
Metamorphosis and Emergence: The skin cast that gets left behind is called an "exuvia" (plural "exuviae").
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Antillean Spreadwing
Antillean Spreadwing female: Males perch low over water at tiny wooded sinkholes in pineland, often in dense growth where they are hard to see. Both males and females hang out in swampy areas.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
River Jewelwing
River Jewelwing male: Rarely seen very far from water, both sexes of the River Jewelwing are commonly seen on stream-side vegetation.
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Everglades Sprite
Everglades Sprite pair: The Everglades Sprite is a tiny dark damselfly of Peninsular Florida and the Gulf Coast that shows much blue when mature.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Swamp Spreadwing
Swamp Spreadwing male: The habitat of the Swamp Spreadwing is in wooded ponds and lakes with abundant emergent vegetation, often where shurbs grow in shallow water; slow streams and bog-margined lakes included.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Swamp Spreadwing Immature Male
Swamp Spreadwing immature male: Males usually perch in sheltered areas in shade, often in tangled vegetation, and are difficult to find.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Gray Petaltail
Gray Petaltail male: These are considered the most primitive living odonates. Different authors have placed the Petaltail family at the base of dragonfly evolution.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Harlequin Darner
Harlequin Darner male: Both sexes perch on tree trunks and commonly land on the clothing of the people who stalk them!
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Pale-Green Darner
Pale-green Darner male: This species forages at the forest edge from ground level to well up into the trees at dusk.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Harlequin Darner Female
Harlequin Darner female: Shallow pools and ditches in swampy areas or sphagnum bog ponds are the ideal habitats for these Darners.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Fawn Darner
Fawn Darner male: This species cruises around clearings or over water to feed and hang vertically from almost any sort of shaded perch low in woodlands, on cliffs, or under bridges. 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Regal Darner Female
Regal Darner female: Pairs of Regal Darners are unusual because they mate away from water.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Regal Darner
Regal Darner male: Breeds in open ponds and lakes in wooded areas, roosts in woodland. The Regal Darner commonly hunts over open areas.
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Black-Tipped Darner
Black-tipped Darner female: These dragonflies are known to displace and even prey on male Canada and Green-striped Darners when patrolling.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Shadow Darner
Shadow Darner male: Males fly beats up and down streams and along lake shores, with much hovering while facing shore, even as long as 30 seconds in one spot.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Tawny Sanddragon
Tawny Sanddragon male: Tawny Sanddragons like sand-bottomed lakes, usually with clear water and often with a bed of emergent vegetation near shore. Water lilies may also be common.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Zigzag Darner
Zigzag Darner male: Both sexes perch on ground, gravel roads, logs, tree trunks, and other unusually light-colored substrates.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Jade Clubtail
Jade Clubtail male: The Jade Clubtail's habitat is near large mud-bottomed lakes, sloughs and canals, also some slow-flowing rivers.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Green-Faced Clubtail
Green-faced Clubtail female: In rocky rivers you will find the Green-faced Clubtail hovering over water just above riffle, facing the wind and being slowly carried backward until they dart forward and hover in the same place again.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Clearlake Clubtail female
Clearlake Clubtail female: This species is distinctive because of a very long S9 and narrow and widely separated thoracic stripes.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Twin-Striped Clubtail
Twin-striped Clubtail pair: This dragonfly likes small sandy streams with little to moderate current in woodland areas.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Plains Clubtail Female
Plains Clubtail female: These odonates usually perch flat on leaves when away from water.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Cobra Clubtail
Cobra Clubtail male: This dragonfly may hover in a slight breeze and will fly only a few feet above water.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Sable Clubtail Female
Sable Clubtail female: When ovipositing eggs in the water, female Sable Clubtails are often guarded by the males.
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Sable Clubtail
Sable Clubtail male: Sable Clubtails perch on sunlit vegetation overhanging streams or on flat rocks in the shade. They will fly upstream when disturbed.
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Orange Shadowdragon
Orange Shadowdragon male: Both sexes of the Orange Shadowdragon fly over rivers beginning at dusk or shortly before and continuing at least until completely dark.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Zebra Clubtail
Zebra Clubtail female: Clean rivers and streams are an important habitat for the Zebra Clubtail.
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Mantled Baskettail
Mantled Baskettail male: Males fly over water on sexual patrol back and forth on a beat as short as 15 feet.
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Common Whitetail
Common Whitetail male: This dragonfly captures small insects that pass by in flight.
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Mantled Baskettail female
Mantled Baskettail female: Large hindwing spots on this species should allow for easy identification.
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Slender Baskettail
Slender Baskettail female: The Slender Baskettail is more common in wooded areas than the Mantled Baskettail.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Painted Skimmer
Painted Skimmer male: Males spend much time perching from waist height to head height over water and chasing others of their species that approach.
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Black Saddlebags
Black Saddlebags pair: This dragonfly prefers shallow open lakes and ponds with much aquatic vegetation. It wanders far and wide away from water.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Carolina Saddlebags
Carolina Saddlebags male: This odonate lives in ponds, both marshy and open, and lakes with much submergent vegetation.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East
"Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East" is a fully-illustrated field guide by Dennis Paulson.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS











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