I have always been fascinated with the insect order Odonata, which contains damselflies and dragonflies. Dragonflies are by far the more familiar for they are more conspicuous. This guide is designed to be a reference to the Odonata of Arkansas. Herschel Raney has an awesome guide to AR dragons (found here) and Giff Beaton has a wonderful book on Southeast Odes and good online guide to Georgia’s Odonata (found here). I will reference these a lot. Since AR damsels are not well represented, I will focus on them first. OdonataCentral is another great resource and database to which I submit my ode records.
Like birds and butterflies, we will get the occasional vagrant. Unless they are regularly encountered AR I have omitted them from this list. The main resource I use is Dennis Paulson’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East which is phenomenal. Not only is it up-to-date and comprehensive but it also gives the reader great identification tools for each species. Out of all the field guides I own, this is probably my personal favorite. Also, it features several great Arkansan/Oklahoman contemporary naturalists’ photos.
This guide is an infant. I hope to add the following topics to this intro page: life cycle/life history, anatomy, where to find odes in AR… As of right now, I plant to create a family page, using this page as its parent, and have links to species profiles that will be individual links. On the family page, I hope to have some sort of key to the species.
Damselfly vs. Dragonfly
On average, the damsels are much smaller than the dragons. However, if I’m not mistaken, the smallest ode in the world is a dragon. For Arkansan odes, we will make some generalizations, though there are many other differences.
Damselflies (suborder Zygoptera): small, thin bodied with wings held together over their abdomen. Zygoptera meaning “yolked wings.” The family of spreadwings (Lestidae) have wings slightly separated above their body (see that family for more info). 3 families in AR.
Dragonflies (suborder Anisoptera): larger, more robust with wings held out, perpendicular to their body. Anisoptera meaning “opposite wings.” 7 families in AR