NZ dragonfly identification: First selection

Except for what is in in the "Personal observations" sections of the screens which follow, all the information on this site is taken from the source or sources in the bibliography.

Note: adult odonata do not change their size once they have reached adulthood, so the sizes quoted may be taken as more or less correct - older specimens won't be larger than younger.

Note also that though some dragonflies and damselflies have Maori names, not all do, and some of the names are applied to several animals. To avoid confusion, I have not given any of the Maori names on this site.

From my observations - and from reading the book - I have put together some notes on the life cycles of the beasts, which can be found here.

Dragonflies and damselflies behave differently and are generally different in size and shape. Very broadly dragonflies tend to be bigger, faster, fly in straight lines and hover; whereas damselflies are smaller and slighter, fly less, fly shorter distances and settle. Territory does not seem to be a big issue for damselflies. They congregate in numbers in breeding areas, with no obvious viciousness in the competition for mates or landscape; male dragonflies can be very aggressive with other dragonflies - not necessarily even of the same breed.

dragonflydamselflyAside from behaviour, the difference is that resting dragonflies cannot park their wings along their backs but always have to rest with them outstretched (see left); resting damselflies fold their wings along their bodies (similarly to a wasp or a fly). An example is shown on the right.

Clickapic to start the identification process ...

Click here to return to the top of this page

For questions, comments, feedback, further information, and offers of photos to enhance what I already have, I can be reached by . The email link requires javascript to work; if it is incomplete, or if email would be too slow anyway, please call me on my mobile, (+64) 021-221-0102. If you are calling from outside New Zealand, please check the time at my place beforehand, using a web site such as

I do this as a hobby; to find out what I do for a living, and more about me, please click here.