Calico Pennant © Cheryl Rose

Take 5: Dragons & Damsels

Plentiful and easy to spot, the dragonflies and damselflies that make up the order Odonata are the largest insects you’re likely to see in Massachusetts.

There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies, with over 180 recorded in New England alone. They come in a dazzling array of colors, some even appearing iridescent in sunlight. Best of all, adult odonates eat a steady diet of other flying insects, including those pesky mosquitoes and black flies.

Learn more about odonates on our website, including how to tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies, and how to join an upcoming odonate program or odonate monitoring project near you.

Here are five gorgeous photos of “dragons and damsels” from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2021 photo contest is open now, so submit your beautiful photos of the nature of Massachusetts today!

Calico Pennant © Cheryl Rose
Calico Pennant © Cheryl Rose
Orange Bluet © Sherri VandenAkker
Orange Bluet © Sherri VandenAkker
Blue Dasher © Nancy Wright
Blue Dasher © Nancy Wright
Halloween Pennant © Verne Arnold
Halloween Pennant © Verne Arnold
Skimming Bluet © Kim Nagy
Skimming Bluet © Kim Nagy

2 thoughts on “Take 5: Dragons & Damsels

    1. Ryan D. Post author

      Thanks for sharing that resource, Paul! And yes, mantises can be larger than dragonflies (especially the larger Chinese Mantises) but are far less common and more difficult to spot than flashy, fast-moving dragonflies, which is why we say odonates are “the largest insects you’re likely to see in Massachusetts.” For what it’s worth, praying mantises are also not native to North America; they have been introduced by gardeners for over a century in an attempt to control insect pests, a practice that continues today.

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