Both dragonflies and damselflies are often seen darting around ponds, and frequently landing on the plant leaves, during the summer months. Both have a lifespan of up to two months but usually less. Dragonflies can grow to around 8cm long and are often confused with their smaller cousins the damselflies that only grow to around 4cm long. The easiest way to distinguish the two species is to watch them while they are at rest; Dragonflies rest with their wings held out as though still in flight while damselflies rest with their wings closed together.
Both species come in many differing colour varieties (sub species), with the male usually tending to display brighter colouration than the often-quiet dull females.
They both feed on a diet of smaller insects, which they catch within a trap formed by their legs during flight, the prey is then consumed while resting.
Mating can occur either in flight or at rest and is performed when the female latches onto the males neck from above with the end of her tail, and the male uses the glands at the end of his tail to fertilise her from below. This method is called the copulation wheel as the two bodies effectively create a circle. Once fertilised the female lays her eggs on plants either above or below the water surface, which will in time hatch out as fearsome looking nymphs. These nymphs will inhabit the messy areas usually at the base of the pond, from where they hunt for any creatures that are small enough for them to catch. Dragonfly nymphs can propel themselves through the water for short distances by expelling water through an opening in their abdomen; this is not the case with damselflies.
Both of the nymphs have a uniquely developed lower jaw that has a pair of pincers at the end and extends out in order to catch its prey Nymphs from the same batch of eggs usually all leave the water at around the same time and usually at dawn or dusk where they moult from their skin and release their wings (similarly to caterpillars becoming butterflies).