Damsel Field Guide
Dragon Field Guide
Sapphire Rockmaster
Orange Threadtail
Coastal Petaltail
Unicorn Darner
Coastal Evening Darner 


Dragonflies and Damselflies - Order Odonata

This page contains pictures and information about Dragonflies and Damselflies that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. 

To have a quick look on those beautiful insects, you can go to our Damsel Field Guide and Dragon Field Guide pages. For more details please proceed from below. 
The insect Order Odonata includes  damselflies (suborder Zygoptera) and dragonflies (suborder Anisoptera). Most of them are medium to large size, body length from 15mm to 120mm. Their bodies are long and slender, usually with bright colours. All of them have two pairs of membranous wings. Their hind wings and forewings are more or less similar size and shape. They have very small antennae but very large compound eyes. They have the small three eyes (ocelli) as well. Their mouths are very good at biting (they don't bite or sting human). Their eyes and mouth occupy almost all their head. More about Dragonflies and Damselflies can be found on this page.
Dragonflies and  Damselflies lay eggs in flash water where the larvae grow. Larvae need fairly precise habitat and sensitive to water pollution. Dragonfly adult is a predator in the sky and preying on flying insects. Larva may spend years in water, depend on species, while adults live only a few weeks.
Suborder are further divided into families. Followings listed the Odonata species that we found so far. The dragonfly and damselfly species in Brisbane are much more than listed in this web site, however, to take their pictures is not easy. We hope we can build up the list with time. Please come back to this web site from time to time.

Damselflies - suborder Zygoptera

Damselflies are usually smaller than Dragonflies and with slender body. Their eyes are well separated on each side of the head. Their wings are narrow at the base with hindwings of similar shape to the forewings. The damselfly larvae have three or occasionally two caudal gills (tails) for breathing in water.

Superfamily LESTOIDEA 

Family DIPHLEBIIDAE - Azure Damselflies
The Azure Damselflies are all in bright blue colour. This Damselfly family found only in Australia and New Guinea. They are large, thick body and rest with wings spread. Their wings usually have the large dark brown pattern. We found only one species in Brisbane area, the Rockmaster Damselflies, are large, thick body and rest with wings spread so you may think that they are the dragonflies.
Family LESTIDAE - Reedings
The damselfly in this family has narrow wings and slender body, rests with wings closed. We found only one species of this family in Brisbane. We found them in early summer on the hill top of White Hill in Brisbane where was quite far away from any water. The female damselfly was camouflaged as part of the tip of the stem.
The Megapodagrionidae, or the Flatwings, is another damselflies family which can easily be found in Brisbane area. As their common name implies, when at rest, they spread their wings flat. They are usually metallic in colour, either green, blue or bronze.  Females oviposit in tandem with males above the surface of the water and eggs are usually placed in plants.


Family PROTONEURIDAE - Threadtail Damselflies
The Threadtail Damselflies are small in size, their abdomen are pin-thin. Their wings are usually clean. We found only one species in Brisbane area. However, they can easily be found near semi-shaded running water. They usually rest in group on the plants at the water edges. They can still be be seen even in winter time. In summer, large number of them can easily be found.
Family COENAGRIONIDAE - Pond Damselflies
Coenagrionidae is the most abundant damselfly in Brisbane area. They are usually with black pattern, the ground colour may be green, blue, yellow, orange, or purple. Some species are two female colour forms, one of which is similar to the male. Their wings are usually colourless and clear. They prefer to lay eggs in pond or slow running water. Usually they are small and slender.

Dragonflies - suborder Anisoptera

Dragonflies are strong flyer and spend most of the time in air. Their large compound eyes are either very close or touching each others. Their hindwings are always broader then the forewings near the base. The larvae breathe by internal tracheal gills and do not have external "tails".

Superfamily AESHNOIDEA

Family PETALURIDAE - Petaltails
The Petaltail Dragonflies are considered to be the most primitive dragonflies. All Petaltails are very large in size. They have separated eyes like the Clubtails family. Most of them are black or dark brown in colour. The pterostigmas on their wings are very long. Their males have the anal appendages enlarged like the petal, and this is why they are called.
Family TELEPHEBIIDAE - Darners
Family Telephebiidae is very close to the family Aeshnidae. Members in the Telephebiidae  family are commonly known as Darner Dragonflies. They are usually large in size, with body length 50-100 mm and wings span 80-150 mm. They are either blue, green, brown or yellow in colour with black markings. Their compound eyes are broadly confluent at the midline of the head. Their wings are mostly clear.
Family AESHNIDAE - Hawkers
Members in this family are usually large in size. They are either blue, green, brown or yellow in colour with black markings. Their wings are always clear. They are commonly known as Hawk Dragonflies. They are strong fliers and may be found long distance from water. They spend most of the time flying and hunting for prey, seldom rest. When rest, they are usually in a vertical position.
Family LINDENIIDAE - Tigers
This family is newly separated from the family GOMPHIDAE. They are large dragonflies, usually black and yellow colours with clear wings. Eyes are widely separated. The male have the "finned tails". The larvae burrow in the bottom sediments of the streams or wave washed shores. Most species the mature larval crawls out onto the shore for emergence instead climbing up the vegetations. Adults usually sit on vegetations under the sun. 
Family GOMPHIDAE - Clubtails
The Clubtails Dragonflies live in streams particularly in open forest. They are medium to large in size. They can be easily recognized by their smaller and widely separated eyes. They are green or yellow in colour with black strips. They have enlarge area in the end of abdomen and this is why they are commonly called Clubtails. The larvae burrow in the bottom sediments of the streams or wave washed shores.


Family SYNTHEMISTIDAE - Tigerlet
The members in this family are commonly called Tigerlet. They are also known as Southern Emeralds. Most of them are small in size and with narrow abdomens. We found only one species in Brisbane. The dragonfly is metallic black with yellow in colour. Wings are clear with light brown colour. They can  easily be found near Moolabin Creek and Oxley Creek in Brisbane.
Members in this family can be small to large in size, which generally have metallic green, black or yellow body. They have emerald eyes when matured, but often brown in immature stage. When perched, they usually hang suspended vertically. They are strong flyer and spend most of the time in air. We sometimes find them resting in our backyard where is at lease one km away from creeks or ponds. 
Family LIBELLULIDAE - Skimmers
The dragonflies in this family are with distinctly broadened abdomen. They are from small to large in size. Their bodies is distinctively shorter than their wings span. They are usually red, yellow and blue in colour. Some species have wings patterns. They spend more time at rest than the dragonflies in other family. The males are territorial and will often return to the same or a nearby spot.

More about Dragonflies and Damselflies........................

1. Insects of Australia - CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p294.
2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p65.
3. The Australian Dragonflies - CSIRO, Watson, Theisinger & Abbey,1991.
4. A Field Guide to Dragonflies of South East Queensland - Ric Nattrass, 2006.
5. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia - CSIRO, GŁnther Theischinger and John Hawking, 2006.
6. Field Guide to Dragonflies of Hong Kong - Keith DP Wilson, Cosmos Books, 2003 

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Last updated: February 22, 2010.