University of Nebraska State Museum - Division of Entomology

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Order Odonata

Dragonfly Page|Damselfly Page|Home Page

Suborder Anisoptera

Aeshnidae Family
Gomphidae Family
Macromiidae Family
Corduliidae Family
Libellulidae Family

Suborder Zygoptera

Broad-winged Damsels
Calopterygidae Family
Spreadwing Damsels
Lestidae Family
Pond Damsels
Coenagrionidae Family

Links to Other Sites:

Field guides:

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West
by Dennis Paulson
(Princeton Field Guides, 2009)

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East
by Dennis Paulson
(Princeton Field Guides, 2012)

Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies
by Blair Nikula, Jackie Sones, Donald Stokes and Lillian Stokes (2002)

Dragonflies and damselflies are a silent but omnipresent part of the Nebraska summer landscape, especially around ponds and streams. Recently there has been a huge surge of interest in these winged insects, which captivate watchers with their beautiful colors and astonishing flying skills. They do not sting, their bite is very mild and they consume vast numbers of pest insects, such as mosquitoes. Their ability to capture flying prey on the wing and to avoid predation by birds is impressive to watch.

Jade & Skimming
Jade Clubtail and Skimming Bluet
Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant female

There are currently 111 species of dragonflies and damselflies that can be found in Nebraska. Dragonflies are generally larger and more robust than damselflies, and they hold their wings open flat. They are strong flyers and can both hover and fly backwards. Dragonflies have eyes which are large and, in most families, close together. The hindwings of a dragonfly are wider at the base than the forewings. Nebraska dragonflies are grouped into the following families: Darners, Clubtails, Cruisers, Emeralds and Skimmers.

Damselflies are much more delicate than most dragonflies and are often found "grazing" on vegetation rather than taking prey on the wing. They are weak flyers that stay close to the ground or surface of the water. In contrast to dragonflies, damselflies (except for the Spreadwing family) hold their wings folded together over their backs. Nebraska damselflies are grouped into the following families: Broad-winged Damsels, Spreadwings, and Pond Damsels.

Azure Bluet
Azure Bluet male

The information presented on this site is largely the work of Fred Sibley,
who personally collected (or identified in collections) the bulk of the records. For more detailed analysis of Nebraska odonates, see

which may be downloaded free of charge from the University of Nebraska Digital Commons or ordered in book form from Zea Books.

I would like to thank the University of Nebraska State Museum Division of Entomology for hosting this site

and Jim Bangma, Giff Beaton, Doug Danforth, Jim Durbin, Tim Hajda, Terry Hibbitts, Troy Hibbitts,
Ann Johnson, Nate Kohler, Loren and Babs Padelford, Brian Peterson, and Rick Schmid for the use of their photographs.

Thanks also to Ann Johnson for advice and encouragement, both in website development and in location and identification of odonates,
and to Loren and Babs Padelford for getting this whole thing started when they introduced me and my husband Don to the study of odonates.

This site was designed and developed by Janis Paseka. Last updated February 2022.

To submit a photo for acceptance as a county record, send it to:

To comment on this site:

Citation: Paseka, J. M. 2022. Nebraska dragonflies and damselflies. URL

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