Collectively, dragonflies and damselflies belong to the group (or Order) of insects known as Odonata, divided into two distinct groups or sub-orders; Anisoptera (true dragonflies) and Zygoptera (damselflies).

Key information about dragonflies:

  • Typically dragonflies are larger and more robust than damselflies, and have a faster and more powerful flight.
  • Dragonflies have large eyes that usually meet at the top of the head.
  • Dragonflies have dissimilar sized pairs of wings – Anisoptera means ‘unequal wings’.
  • Dragonflies normally rest with their wings spread open.
Southern Hawker - Aeshna cyanea Male, Felmersham NR.
A typical dragonfly, the Southern Hawker – Aeshna cyanea


14 species of dragonfly can be found in Bedfordshire: