Damselflies (Zygoptera) belong to the order Odonata. Odonata means “toothed,” and refers to the chewing mandibles of these carnivorous insects. There are two suborders within Odonata: Anisoptera (dragonflies) and Zygoptera (damselflies). Suborder Zygoptera accounts for about one-third of the species in Odonata and comprises 12 recognized families and approximately 95 genera worldwide. (“Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)”, 2003; Corbet, 1999; McGavin, 2001; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2002)
Damselflies are carnivorous insects that live and breed near a wide variety of freshwater habitats. They lay their eggs in water, and the immature damselflies spend the first several months or years as aquatic predators. These immature damselflies, called nymphs, have external gills that allow them to extract oxygen from the water. After undergoing metamorphosis, new adult damselflies fly away from the water for a brief period of several days to several weeks, after which they return to breed. Both adult and immature damselflies are predators whose diet consists primarily of insects. (Corbet, 1999; Silsby, 2001)
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