A pocket wilderness in the heart of Houston.

West 11 Street Park


Damselflies and dragonflies both belong to the insect order Odonata.  More than 78 species of damselflies have been found in Texas.  Damselflies have three body regions: a head, a thorax to which their four wings and six legs are attached and an abdomen.  All damselflies are predatory and they eat other insects.  They are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Knowing the characteristics of damselflies and dragonflies will help in identifying the insect. A damselfly eyes are large and clearly separated, usually protruding to each side of the head, in a “barbell” shape.  The body of a damselfly is usually long and slender and its forewings and hindwings are similar in size and shape and are membranous in appearance.  A damselfly will hold its wings together in a closed position, usually above the abdomen when they are at rest. In many species of damselflies the males are often more brightly-colored than the females.

In short, the easiest way to tell whether the odonate you are looking at is a dragonfly or damselfly is to look at how it holds its wing while resting.  If they are lying flat, parallel to the ground, you are looking at a dragonfly.  If the wings are pressed together, held over the insects back, you are looking at a damselfly.  Dragonflies are almost always flying and damselflies are almost always perching.

When searching for dragonflies and damselflies, look for as many different aquatic habitats as possible.  Their presence on a body of water indicates that it is relatively unpolluted. However, their dependence on fresh, unpolluted water makes them vulnerable to the decline of wetlands.

Visit this link for more information on damselflies.  Below are some of the damselflies that can be seen at West 11th Street Park during the year.

Click on the photo for enlarged view of picture.

American Rubyspot American Rubyspot

1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches in length.  The American Rubyspot habitat is wide, open streams and rivers.   They often perch on twigs and leaves both near the shore and in the water.  Interestingly the females are often seen perched higher than the males.

The males are large with an iridescent red head and thorax.  The females are largely iridescent green but with wing color duller than the male.  This species of damselfly is alert and fast-flying during the summer.

Photo by John C. Abbott.

Blue-fronted Dancer Blue-fronted Dancer

1-1/4 to 1-5/8 inches in length.  This damselfly can be found near streams, ponds and along riverbanks.  They are active throughout the summer.  The head and thorax of the males are mostly blue with fine black lines down the middle and the shoulder of the thorax. Like other species of the genus Argia, these damselflies perform a bouncing flight as if they were dancing over plants and water. Thus they are known by the common name "dancer".

The male will defend territories up to 6.7 feet in diameter against other males, including males of other species of damselflies.

Photo by D Huntington.

Burgundy Bluet Burgundy Bluet

1 to 1-1/4 inches in length.  This damselfly's habitat is heavily vegetated black water ponds, lakes, oxbows, sloughs and slow reaches of streams, often associated with lily pads.

The male has deep red eyes that become pale brown with age. The face is orange-red to violet and the rest of the head is black with metallic reflections.  It has been noted that this species can become amazingly inconspicuous, seemingly disappearing, as they enter shaded areas while patrolling.

Photo by Greg Lasley.

Citrine Forktail Citrine Forktail

3/4 to 1-1/4 inches in length.  The citrine forktail habitat is heavily vegetated ponds and lakes and other permanent or temporary bodies of water. Citrine refers to its overall yellowish coloration.  They are primarily a summer species in most of their range.  It is the smallest damselfly in North America.

Double Striped Bluet Double Striped Bluet

3/4 to 1 -1/4 inches in length.  This damselfly's habitat is various permanent and semi-permanent ponds, lakes and reservoirs as well as slow reaches of streams and rivers.  The Double-Striped Bluet often perches over water most often from mid-morning to late afternoon.

Its common name is from the peculiar black shoulder stripe, which is divided in two by a thin blue stripe. This is the key identification characteristic; no other damselfly has a shoulder stripe that looks like this one.

Photo by John C. Abbott.

Ebony Jewelwing Ebony Jewelwing

1-1/2 to 2-1/4 inches in length.  This is the only black wing damselfly.  During the summer they can be seen along small, slow moving shady streams or resting on nearby vegetation. They are also known to fly considerable distances from water. The males will guard mating territories and regularly face off with other males flying in slow circles.

This species ranks among the most studied damselflies due to how common and widespread it is in eastern North America.  Males and females communicate their location to each other by snapping the wings open and closed.  The female will appear similar to the male except slightly duller with browner wings.

Photo by Tim Lethbridge.

Orange Bluet Orange Bluet

1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in length.  This damselfly can often be seen on various ponds and lakes as well as slow moving streams and rivers.  The face of the male is orange except for a narrow black stripe across the front.  Orange Bluet is unusual in that it is most active in the late afternoon.  They may perch on rock, foliage, water lilies and other emergent vegetation.

Photo by Ophis.

Rambur's Forktail Rambur's Forktail

1 to 1-1/2 inches in length.  Rambur's Forktails are active from early spring through fall in Houston.  Both males and females prefer sunny areas along the edges of ponds and slow-moving streams with emergent vegetation. They will perch along shores adjacent to open water.

The males do not maintain mating territories.  Both males and females prey on small insects. Females will attack and eat other damselflies.

Photo by Nancy Hamlett.

Stream Bluet Stream Bluet

1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in length.  This damselfly can often be seen along shores of slow moving streams, rivers and occasionally lakes.  Part of the genus Enallagama which includes some of the largest and bluest damselflies, hence the common name "bluets".  The face of the male is dark and the top of the head is mostly black with only a narrow strip of blue visible.

Stream Bluet is widespread throughout Texas but is more frequently encountered to the east, where it can be abundant. They are often sparse in the earlier parts of the day but seem to become more numerous in the late afternoon as temperatures start to cool.

Photo by John C. Abbott.


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