D&D is for Dragon and Damsel Flies

Enallagma cyathigerum Image courtesy Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

If dragonflies were in The Monster Manual

Dire Dragonflies
STR 12
DEX 18 (speed and maneuverability)
INT 18 (based on ability to calculate trajectories)
CHA 18 (because they are so pretty)

Speed: Dragonflies have perfect flight manoeuvrability. Having control over each of their four wings allows them to make sudden stops, hover, make right angled turns, fly vertically and even move backwards. Movement: most can travel up to 30 miles per hour; in migration dragonflies can travel up to 90 miles per day.
Vision: Each compound eye contains 28,000 ommatidia allowing a wide visual field.
Full Attack: Flying interception/grapple attack
Notes: Dragonflies were one of the first insects to develop flight 300 million years ago. The design hasn’t changed much though there is one extinct species that had a wingspan of 30 inches (about 76 cm). Dragonflies are usually spotted near ponds but they will take to wooded areas for cover. The presence or absence of dragonfly nymphs can be a good indicator of water quality.

Dragonflies and Damselflies are pretty similar looking but there are some noticeable differences. Damselflies fold their wings when they land. Their eyes are set much further apart.

blue damselfly
Enallagma annexum

I was so happy to identify the damselfly below. I kept looking for information on red damselflies but seemed to get nowhere. The reason? Ischnura verticalis females are red only when immature. Soon she will turn blue or green.

Ischnura verticalis immature female June 2014
Ischnura verticalis immature female June 2014

Compared to most damselflies, a dragonfly has a thicker, stouter thorax. The best way to tell the two apart is to watch their landings. Dragonflies never fold their wings. If you can get a look at the face you can see that dragonfly eyes are set much closer together, too.

Brachymesia herbida June 2014The dragonfly above is probably a tawny pennant dragonfly (Brachymesia herbida). There are rumours of a breeding population in Florida but the ones in Texas are undocumented vagrants from the tropics.

I love the sparkle of the burnt caramel splashes (pterostigma) on the wings. I suppose if the Texas Longhorns ever get tired of having a cow as their mascot they could do worse than to switch over to this amazing hunter.

Brachymesia herbida 3 June 2014* Learned a new word today. Pterostigma are thickened (coloured) cells which add extra weight to help stabilise wings at high speeds.


15 thoughts on “D&D is for Dragon and Damsel Flies

    1. Thanks. Someone told me they were common and I thought: but I haven’t seen any and of course the next day there it was. =)


  1. One of the many reasons I love dragonflies is that they eat mosquitoes. We treat our rain barrels to thwart them but not sure we’re winning that battle!


  2. I had a neon skimmer showing off here yesterday. I couldn’t stop watching it. It is their time of year. Love the D&D stats and I learned two new words here. Not only pterostigma but ommatidia as well. Any day I score not one but two new awesome words AND get D&D eye candy? Off to a very good start!


    1. =) ahhh a fellow word junky. Glad to be of service.
      When I was looking around trying to find names I found a picture of a skimmer dragonfly that is purple and pink. For that I would build a pond and risk even more mosquitoes.


  3. Interesting post. They are some of the few bugs that I really think are “pretty.” And they’d be great for reconnaissance if you could use “Handle Animal” skills with them…Nice D&D stats ;-)


    1. They are are pretty. Butterflies have nothing on them. My husband who knows everything about role playing told me after that stats already existed. Of course. Those games leave no stone unturned. But now maybe we will have a swamp adventure. =)


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