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Behavior can give hints for ID but generally is not as significant
for damselflies as it is for dragonflies.
Feeding: Is the damselfly actively
chasing prey, or simply picking perched insects off vegetation?
Generally speaking, many damselflies, especially Bluets and Forktails,
usually don't go very far for their food supply, and may seem to be bumping against
leaves and stems as they pick off small invertebrates. Others will simply fly low
over open water or patrol along the shoreline in and out of vegetation for a meal.
Flying: Is your ode flying in
the open, poking through vegetation, or barely skimming a few inches above the water's
surface? Does it fly with regular wing beats, or with erratic movements? Is it a
weak or strong flier?
The Broad-winged Damsels are often spotted by their rather bouncy
erratic flight, similar to that of a butterfly.
Pond Damsels, notably the Bluets, Forktails and Dancers, usually
make slow, low, brief flights in and out of vegetation. Sprites can be almost
invisible as they sneak through thick grass and sedges.
Spreadwings are often observed making weak and infrequent flights
over water for only short distances, and usually patrol shorelines from emergent
vegetation on which they rest.
Perching: Posture can serve
as a useful tool in identification but keep in mind that while each species and
family have "typical" styles, they can and do adopt more than one perching posture.
Broad-winged Damsels are almost always seen perched horizontally
on streamside vegetation and rarely take on any other perching position.
Pond Damsels such as the Bluets and Forktails can be observed
either perched horizontally or obliquely, on vegetation. Dancers tend to perch
on the ground or on rocks more than other damselflies.
Spreadwings typically can be observed perched obliquely with
wings spread slightly apart on emergent vegetation.
Habitat Selection: Where did
you observe your ode? Most field guides describe the appropriate breeding sites
for each species. CLICK HERE for more information
on odonate habitats.
Broad-winged Damsels usually prefer streams and rivers.
Pond Damsels: Many Bluet species have a strong preference for
flowing or still water. Forktails tend to favors ponds, bogs and lake edges.
Most Dancer species prefer flowing water.
Spreadwings usually prefer a wide range of still-water habitats
such as marshy ponds, temporary pools, stream backwaters and bogs.
Note: While many odes have specific breeding habitats, they may
leave that area to mature or to feed and can be found most anywhere.
Flight Season: Typically each
species has a limited period when they are active in your area. Consult a field
guide or some of our web references for data on this. Flight season can vary
from one geographical area to the next. A species that flies in February in Texas
may not be active until July in Ontario. A few species are active year round in
warmer climates, but most have short flight periods that are specific to a particular
season (spring, early-mid summer, late summer to early fall).
Time of day: Is your ode more
active in the mid-afternoon or at dawn or dusk. It won't rule anything out, but
may provide an important clue to its ID. Again, refer to a local field guide for
information on individual species.