Two pairs of slender damselflies linked together on reeds
Nature and wildlife,  Nature Photo Challenge,  Themed galleries

Gallery: dragonflies draw flame

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame

Gerard Manley Hopkins

A quote from one of my favourite poets to introduce a small selection of dragonfly and damselfly shots from close to home and further afield.

And here’s another very different but equally awesome quote, this time from the Woodland Trust:

Long before dinosaurs walked the earth, there were dragonflies in the sky. They were some of the first winged insects to evolve, around 300 million years ago. Back then oxygen levels were much higher, allowing giant dragonflies to evolve, with wingspans like eagles.

Woodland Trust

While I love to see dragonflies and damselflies I often confuse one with the other. But Denzil has a helpful guide in his Nature Photo Challenge post. Hopefully with his guidance I have accurately distinguished between them in my selection!

I’ve also tried my hand at identifying the species, using Google’s image search function and a lot of pouring over descriptions. Nevertheless a few elude me and others may be wrong. Please do tell me if you can add to, or correct, my captions.

Two slender damselflies linked together on a reed

Damselflies mating, Ealing, England

I think these are Coenagrion Mercuriale, the Southern Damselfly. My feature photo is of the same pair and a second pair also ‘in action’ in the background.


Two slender damselflies linked together on a leaf

More damselflies mating, this time in Norfolk, England, and again probably Coenagrion Mercuriale. According to Wikipedia:

The specific part of the scientific name, mercuriale, is because of the distianctive markings on the second segment of the abdomen that resembles the astrological symbol for the planet Mercury – ☿.  This also gives the species an alternative common name of mercury bluet.


Rust coloured dragonfly on a wooden fence

Dragonfly on a fence in the Somerset Levels, England

This would appear to be a male Common Darter (Sympetrum Striolatum


Purple dragonfly on a rock

A darter in Oman

Probably Trithemis Annulata, known commonly as the Violet Dropwing, Violet-marked Darter, Purple-blushed Darter or Plum-coloured Dropwing,


Pink dragonfly on the tip of a twig

Dragonfly near the Corcavado NP in Costa Rica

Probably a Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis Ferruginea) in the gardens of the Aguila de Osa hotel near the Corcavado NP in Costa Rica


Brown dragonfly on a twig

Dragonfly in a nature reserve at Lagarta Lodge on the north west Pacific coast of Costa Rica

I haven’t been able to identify this one, probably because the backlighting makes the colours unclear. If anyone has any ideas what it might be please tell me in the comments!


Blue damselfly on dead leaf

Damselfly spotted on a coffee farm in Colombia

Probably a Cerulean (but could be an Aztec) Dancer, or one of several other very similar blue dancers!


Dragonfly on grass

Dragonfly in Bardia NP, Nepal

Probably a Slender Skimmer, aka Green Marsh Hawk, Latin name Orthetrum Sabina


Brown dragonfly on a twig

Another striking dragonfly in Bardia NP, Nepal

I’m pretty sure this is Neurothemis Fulvia, the Fulvous Forest Skimmer


Brown dragonfly on a hat

Finally, this dragonfly landed on the hat of a fellow traveller in North Korea, while we waited for our broken-down bus to appear. We weren’t permitted to take our cameras when we got out of the bus for some fresh air so this was taken on my phone. Consequently the quality is too poor to allow of identification, but I thought it was a fun image to include!

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