Skip Navigation LinksOdes For Beginners : Identifying Odonates : ID 101 : Dragonfly ID : Sexual Differences

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Dragonfly Sexual Differences

Note the color differences between this mature male Sulphur-tipped Clubtail (left) and a young female (right)  This is typical of many clubtails, with the female having more extensive light colored areas and younger odes being bright yellow, a color which later fades to dull green.

Some species are sexually "dimorphic" meaning the sexes differ considerably in appearance.  But many species have only subtle differences between the sexes.

MALE:
  • Generally brighter in coloration than female, except in Clubtails.
  • Male Skimmers are often brightly colored in red, yellow, blue or orange
  • Has a slender abdomen with 3 terminal appendages - 2 upper and 1 lower.
  • No ovipositor or bump under segments 8 or 9.
  • Ventral projections on abdominal segment 2, the male secondary genitalia.
  • Males of some families have a cutout on the inner edge of the hindwing.
FEMALE:
  • Generally females are larger than males
  • Clubtail females are frequently brighter than males with more prominent yellow markings
  • Female Skimmers may be cryptically colored in shades of brown or may show paler versions of the male color.
  • Has a wider abdomen with 2 terminal appendages.
  • There may be an ovipositor or bump under segment 8 & 9.
  • Ventral side of segment 2 is smooth without secondary genitalia.
  • In species with an abdominal club, the club is usually smaller in females.
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