Miraculous creatures they are, those damselflies and dragonflies. Both member of the order of dragonflies (Odonata), which consists of two sub-orders: the damselflies (Zygoptera) and the dragonflies (Anisoptera). 


The first group we know as the slender damselflies such as the large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), the white-legged damselfly or blue featherleg (Platycnemis pennipes) and the banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens). They have a thin, long abdomen and their wings all have the same shape. Hence also the scientific name Zygoptera of this group, which means ‘equal-winged’. When damselflies are at rest, they usually fold their wings along or above the abdomen, so you will rarely see them with spread wings. Another striking point is that the eyes are placed on the sides of their heads and don’t touch each other. The latter also applies to some dragonflies, so the difference is not that simple. Within the suborder of the damselflies we count four different families in the Netherlands: the broad-winged damselflies (Calopterygidae), the spreadwings (Lestidae), the narrow-winged damselflies (Coenagrionidae) and the white-legged damselflies (Platycnemididae).

Unequal winged

The dragonflies are a lot bigger. They have a rather firm abdomen, not a long thin one as damselflies have. Examples are the migrant hawker (Aeshna mixta), four-spotted chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) and banded darter (Sympetrum pedemontanum). Their rear wings are wider at the base than the front wings. And that’s where the scientific name comes from, because Anisoptera literally means ‘unequal winged’. Unlike the damselflies, they usually keep their wings spread out or even slanted downwards. But rarely along or above the abdomen. The dragonflies have big eyes at the front of the head, which – almost – touch each other. The Dutch dragonflies are divided into five families: the hawkers (Aeshnidae), the clubtail dragonflies (Gomphidae) (an example of dragonflies whose eyes dont touch each other as I wrote at the damselflies), the spiketails (Cordulegastridae), the emerald dragonflies (Corduliidae) and the skimmers (Libellulidae).

Below you will find an overview with all the photos of Dutch damselflies and dragonflies on my website. They are grouped by species. Unfortunately I cannot arrange them here alphabetically by their English name.

To easily find a damselfly of dragonfly species you can go to the overview page, where all species are listed alphabetically by name. With a hyperlink you can go to a page with photos of the relevant species.