Suborder ZYGOPTERA Selys, 1854
- Worldwide about eighteen families are recognised, but these numbers require revision with increasing phylogenetic
Distribution in Africa and surrounding Islands
- Eleven families are found in Africa.
- Six families in South Africa
- Several species endemic to South Africa, especially species found in the Western Cape Province
General identification features
- Damselflies are generally small and slender with a weak flight. though the chlorocyphids (Jewels ) and especially calopterygids (Demoiselles ) are more robust and strong.
- Wings are usually folded together above and beside the abdomen while settled , but held open in some genera. (Spreadwings and Malachites)
- Eyes are widely separated by the head
- Occupy a considerable variety of habitats, but many species, and some families, have their own specific environmental requirements. Some species prefer flowing waters, while others prefer standing water. Well grasses banks with emergent vegetation, coarse detritus Lilly pads, rocks and/or a soft (like muddy) bottom
- Vegetation and its characteristics including submerged, floating, emergent, or waterside are also important. Adults may require emergent or waterside plants to use as perches; others may need specific submerged or floating plants on which to lay eggs. Requirements may be highly specific
- Some damselflies, particularly males, may be territorial. Some defend a territory against others of their own or dragonfly species species.
- Often found in grassy areas away from water flitting in and out of the grass catching small insects of grass leaves
- Often perch in a hanging pose. or sitting in a horizontal position on leaves, branches, rocks or other convenient resting or hunting spots
- Some species prefer dappled shade in forest openings or streams