Seasonal Observations: Damselflies

After falling slave to Deadline Madness for almost a decade, I managed last summer to redefine “urgency.” (Broadly speaking, the top 3 drop-everything-and-go-for-it priorities are Love. Strawberries. Summer.)

Practically speaking, that has meant jumping into a lake whenever I ride by.

And this week, that has meant noticing how many damselflies are out at Mosquito Lake.


Given the way they fly and frolic like camera-shy fairies, I double-checked with local fishing guru, Brad Knowles at the Pemberton Fish Finder, and he confirmed that they are adult damsel flies. (If you want to know how to tie a damselfly fly, he’s your man.)

And thanks to the fauna geeks at UBC, here’s a little insight into the life and times of a damselfly.

  • You could call them dragonflies and you wouldn’t technically be wrong. They belong to the order Odonata, which contains about 5000 species.
  • On close inspection they look primitive because the Odonata and their ancestors are some of the most ancient of insects.
  • In BC, there are 2 sub-orders, the Zygoptera (damselflies) and Anisoptera (dragonflies). The damselflies are slimmer, often smaller and usually slower than dragonflies, and their equal-sized wings are usually held together above the body. Zygoptera means “joined wings.”
  • Unlike most insects, they can work their four wings independently, making them superb aerial predators. (Take that, mosquitoes.)
  • The adults only live for about one or two months. Many species of damselfly in BC develop rapidly – with an entire life cycle unfolding in just a year.

Based on their  electric blue colour, I’m going to guess that Mosquito Lake has a decent population of Argia vivida  (the vivid dancer) damselfly – one of the province’s red-listed species.

(But I coudn’t get them to stop still for long enough to be sure. Any local experts are welcome to help me out!)

vivid dancer damselfly

4 thoughts on “Seasonal Observations: Damselflies

  1. Lisa Richardson says:

    Thanks to Veronica Woodruff from Stewardship Pemberton for advising that Mosquito Lake’s resident dragonflies are most likely Boreal Bluet, Pacific Forktail, Common Spreadwing and Blue-eyed Darner. (With thanks to John Acorn.) On the must-acquire list of books: Bugs of British Columbia. Veronica says, “Its an awesome book for treasure hunting bugs, good descriptions.” Thanks V!

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