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Broad-bodied chaser (Libellula depressa) photo by Peter Sabol
Broad-bodied chaser – Libellula depressa by Peter Sabol

Dragonflies and damselflies once had wingspans of almost 1 metre and weighed the same as a crow

Published: June 8, 2023

There are few UK insects that are as visually pleasing, with such an interesting life cycle, as dragonflies and damselflies. Known for their acrobatic aerial displays and often photographed visiting garden ponds and waterways over the summer months, they begin and spend most of their life underwater, adults having carefully laid their eggs in and around freshwater streams, rivers and ponds. Although they belong to the same order of insects – Odonata – there are a few differences between the groups, the main visual one being that dragonflies hold their wings out horizontally when at rest, whereas damselflies hold their wings together, above their backs. There are more than 5,000 known species worldwide, and almost 60 in the UK.

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