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Damselflies have four large membranous wings of nearly equal size which are held together over their back when they are at rest except for the Lestidae, which hold them slightly open. Wings are usually clear except for a spot at the end of the wing called a stigma. Some species have black or red coloration in the wings.
Odonate eggs display a large array of shapes, from those that resemble tiny rice grains to minute mangos. Odonates oviposit in three ways: endophytic, epiphytic , and exophytic . Generally, eggs oviposited endophytically are several times longer than wide while those laid epiphytically and exophytically are ellipsoidal to subspherical . Clutch sizes can be as large as 1500, with some females depositing several thousand eggs in a lifetime . Eggs hatch in seven to eight days after oviposition but hatching can be postponed for up to 80 days and in one case 360 days .
Damselflies have long thin bodies that are often brightly colored with green, blue, red, yellow, black or brown. They have oblong heads with bulging eyes and very short antennae. Aquatic immature damselflies have elongate bodies, long legs and three leaf-like appendages or gills on the tail. These appendages are used for oxygen transport.
Life cycle:Adults emerge in the spring, summer or fall. They live for a few weeks to a few months and fly mainly during the daytime . Mating is unusual: males deposit sperm in a secondary genitalia structure on the second and third abdominal segment by bending the abdomen forward. The male then clasps the female behind the head with claspers on the tip of his abdomen and mating pairs can be seen flying in tandem. The female then loops her abdomen forward and picks up the sperm from the male. Eggs are deposited in emergent plants or floating vegetation or directly into the water. Immature damselflies hatch from eggs and live in water. They develop through 10 to 12 immature stages (instars), although there may be more or fewer instars depending on the species and habitat. The last immature stage crawls out of the water onto vegetation before the adult emerges. Most species have one generation per year.
Odonate eggs display a large array of shapes, from those that resemble tiny rice grains to minute mangos. Odonates oviposit in three ways:endophytic , epiphytic and exophytic . Generally, eggs oviposited endophytically are several times longer than wide while those laid epiphytically and exophytically are ellipsoidal to subspherical . Clutch sizes can be as large as 1500, with some females depositing several thousand eggs in a lifetime . Eggs hatch in seven to eight days after oviposition but hatching can be postponed for up to 80 days and in one case 360 days .
Habitat and habits: Adults â€“ many disperse widely but return to spend most of adult life near preferred aquatic habitat. some fly almost all of the time, others perch for short periods between flights Nymphs â€“ dragonflies common in slow-moving flowing waters and standing waters; not many damselflies found in flowing waters; nymphs move rather slowly, if at all; lie in soft sediment or climb about in vegetation or plant debris.
Both dragonflies and damselflies belong to the Odonata, which is a subgroup of insects, which in turn is a group of uniramian arthropods. Many characteristics distinguish Odonata from other groups of insects â€” minute antennae, extremely large eyes , two pairs of transparent membranous wings with many small veins, a long slender abdomen, an aquatic larval stage with posterior tracheal gills, and a prehensile labium (extendible jaws underneath the head). Among living Odonata, there are twenty-five families, mostly dragonflies and damselflies. Of all their characteristics, the easiest way to tell a dragonfly or damselfly from other insects is by the size of the eyes and shape of the abdomen. If the eyes are very large in proportion to the head and the abdomen is long and thin, then it is almost sure to be in Odonata.
The distribution of various groups and species of Odonata is highly variable. Some genera and species are widespread while others are highly local in their distribution. Some families are restricted to cool streams or rivers, others to ponds or still clear waters, and some to marshy places. The presence of dragonflies and damselflies may be taken as an indication of good ecosystem quality. The greatest numbers of species are found at sites that offer a wide variety of microhabitats, though dragonflies tend to be much more sensitive to pollution than are damselflies. Many ecological factors affect the distribution of larvae. The acidity of the water, the amount and type of aquatic vegetation, the temperature, and whether the water is stationary or flowing all affect the distribution of Odonata larvae. Some species can tolerate a broad range of conditions while others are very sensitive to their environment.
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