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German calls them Libellen.

English has two words for them - dragonflies for the suborder Anisoptera and damselflies for the suborder Zygoptera.

Of course that means that Germans need to distinguish between these two suborders, too and so we have Gro├člibellen and Kleinlibellen - sticking the adjective for the word big and small in front of the name. There is a difference in size but the clearest way of telling a dragonfly from a damselfly is the way the hold their wings when resting.

Damselflies have their wings folded close to their body:

This is an Azurjungfer of some kind - an azure damsel literally and French has demoiselles for all of Zygoptera so there is this tendency to invoke unmarried women in the native names.

Here is another pretty blue damselfly - this time with a slightly different colouring, possibly a Gemeine Becherjungfer, a common blue damselfly. The scientific name Enallagma cyathigerum refers to the fact that all those blue damselflies are easily mixed up - enallagma is Greek for Vertauschung German wikipedia tells me.

Here two damselflies - whatever their species - are mating:

The shape of this mating "wheel" isn't actually round, but heart-shaped and that male and female look very different:

The next damselfly belongs to a different family, Calopterygidae, in German Prachtlibellen - Pracht is German for splendour. In English they are called broad-winged damselflies, demoiselles (there is the French name again, but used slightly differently), or jewelwings.

I've identified this as Calopteryx splendens or banded demoiselle or Geb├Ąnderte Prachtlibelle.

Here you can see the metallic-blue body a little better:

I am not sure whether this is a female of the species or a different demoiselle altogether:

Their metallic bodies are fascinating:

Dragonflies (and to lesser extent I suppose also damselflies) have a reputation as fierce predators - their larvae are rapacious and the adults are known to be cannibalistic etc., but sometimes they get caught up in somebody else's web:

This is a dragonfly and you see the wings have a completely different angle when resting:

This year I've found the damselflies easier to photograph because the dragonflies kept flying about. The females were busy depositing their eggs. This kept hovering over the water surface dipping into it quite frequently:

This is the male of the species which I've identified as a Plattbauch, literally flat, i.e. broad belly, or Libellula depressa, broad-bodied chaser or broad-bodied darter:


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June 2017

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