Where do I start???

First figure out if you have a damselfly or a dragonfly: You can click on either of the two photos below to see larger versions.

  DAMSELFLIES: Mostly small and very slender, and most fold their wings together over their back (all except spreadwings). The fore- and hindwings are the same size (Zygoptera means "equal wings"). Most have thin but wide heads with eyes out on the end like a hammerhead shark. Many stay very close to or in cover so you need to look close. Fly much more slowly on average than dragonflies.

  DRAGONFLIES: Small to very large, much more robust than damselflies, and always have their wings spread out to the side when perched. The hindwings are usually wider at the base than the forewings (Anisoptera means "unequal wings"). Large eyes that usually meet on top of the head (exceptions include petaltail and clubtails). Usually fly fairly fast, and may patrol or hunt over large distances.

Now look at the groups below to try to put your insect in the right family group.

Damselflies (Zygoptera)

Ebony Jewelwing
Broad-winged Damsels (Calopterygidae)

Large for a damselfly, brightly colored and with some color in the wings, only four common GA species.

Swamp Spreadwing

Fairly large for damselflies, keep wings spread at rest, almost always found in cover, long and slender.

Rambur's Forktail
Pond Damsels

All the rest! Medium to small, many are blue, and highly varied.

Dragonflies (Anisoptera)

Gray Petaltail

Only one very large gray species, usually perched vertically on tree trunks, and not wary. Eyes do not meet on top of head.

Springtime Darner

Large in size, a few medium-sized, long and slender. Hang vertically when perched, and many only seen flying. Long patrols usually.

Cherokee Clubtail

A large group, perch horizontally except for hanging clubtails (Stylurus), all sizes. Many have an exaggerated swollen tip to the abdomen (the "club").

Say's Spiketail

Only five GA species, all are long and slender (no club) with yellow rings or spots. Many are found mostly near seeps.

Stream Cruiser

Four common species in GA, perch obliquely, and patrol fast along streams and rivers.

Prince Baskettail

Several different groups in GA, many very difficult to find. Taxonomy still being worked on. Medium sized mostly.

Painted Skimmer
King Skimmers

Very common and obvious around mostly standing water like ponds, lakes or puddles. Mostly perch horizontally on sticks or other objects.

Red-veined Pennant
Other Skimmers

Not quite as common as King Skimmers, but also usually found in the open and range in size from medium to very small.

When you think you know what group to look in, click on the photo for that group or click here to return to the main page

Damselflies and Dragonflies

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All photographs copyright 2006 by Giff Beaton unless otherwise noted.