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Damselflies, Pacific Northwest

Boreal Bluet Damselflies
Boreal Bluet Damselfly, Photo By Bud Logan

The adult damselflies are often mistaken for dragonflies but if you look closely there are many differences. Damselflies can close their wings parallel and over their back. They also have a body small in length with finer features compared to dragonflies. They are seen more often than the dragonflies.

Their life cycle usually last one year although some species can live for two years. The damselflies mate while attached to weeds or on shorelines. The female then climbs down farther down into the weeds and dips her body into the water to lay the eggs. Once her eggs have been laid, she crawls back to the top to mate again.

Western Forktail Damselflies
Western Forktail Damselfly, Photo By Bud Logan

The nymph goes through about 12 stages or molts before developing into a mature adult. While in the nymph stage they feed by laying in wait for tiny aquatic insects to get close and then they grab and devour them.

When the time has come to emerge, the nymph swims towards the land to climb on the weeds or plants. While attached to the weed, the skin will break loose along the wing area. The first thing the new damselfly does is to push or pump body fluids to its stomach and wings. The new form will lengthen to resemble the other adults of its kind.

The damselfly is about two and a half centimeters long when it emerges as an adult. The nymphs not yet ready to emerge will migrate in the fall to deeper waters where it will hibernate till the following spring and the process starts again.

These guys are small and very beautiful, you see them in pairs or more around ponds and other sources of water.

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