Because they live hidden from view under the water’s surface, odonate nymphs (or larvae) are often ignored by the casual dragonfly watcher. If, however, one makes the modest effort required, they will be richly rewarded by the variety of shapes, color patterns, and behaviors exhibited by these insects. An inexpensive dipnet and a small glass aquarium or other container are all you need to enter the world of the odonate nymph. Be careful -- it’s addictive!!

Odonate nymphs can be found in nearly any permanent or semi-permanent body of water; a few species are even found in temporary ponds and roadside puddles. They can be found virtually year-round, especially in the South. Their beauty is certainly more subtle than that of their adult counterparts! They are, as a whole, a bit of a drably colored  group -- predominately greens and browns, with various bands and mottles, allowing them to blend in with the environment and hide from both predators and prey.  Lifestyles include burrowing in the substrate and ambushing small creatures that happen by; sprawling  on leaf litter, root tangles, or other submerged habitat and ambushing small creatures that happen by; hanging out in a crevice in a log or rock and ambushing small creatures that happen by; and actively moving through the aquatic habitat, visually identifying and stalking small creatures that happen by. The common theme being that, however they do it, odonate nymphs, like the adults, are efficient predators in their environment. In some fishless ponds, in fact, odonate nymphs are the top predators in the entire aquatic community.

The links on this page will take you to a series of photographs of representative members of each of the 10 families of odonates that occur in Alabama and Mississippi. A special thanks to Larry Everett, who graciously allowed me to photograph a Tachopteryx thoreyi nymph he had been rearing for several years!!!

  1. Links to Odonate Families

  1. BulletCalopterygidae (Broad-winged Damsels)

  2. BulletLestidae (Spreadwings)

  3. BulletCoenagrionidae (Pond Damsels)

  4. BulletPetaluridae (Petaltails)

  5. BulletAeshnidae (Darners)

  6. BulletGomphidae (Clubtails)

  7. BulletCordulegastridae (Spiketails)

  8. BulletMacromiidae (Cruisers)

  9. BulletCorduliidae (Emeralds)

  10. BulletLibellulidae (Skimmers)