Digital Dragonflies Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018 Entomological Society of America. Nearly all entomologists have, at one time or another, made an insect collection. For many of us, insect collecting came first and led into the profession. A lot has been written about the joys (or evils) of collecting, but it is a satisfying hobby and an important facet of entomology. Amateur entomologists abound, attracted to the diversity of beetles or colors of butterflies. However, we all encounter specimens that although beautiful in life, lose much of their color when captured and added to a collection. No group of insects can be more frustrating in this regard than the Odonata. Dragonflies and damselflies rival any insect for color. Their varied behavior, unique mating habits, high visibility, and aquatic development of the immatures make them fascinating creatures. But capture adults and add them to a collection and they become dull, easily broken, and difficult to maintain. Acetone dehydration (Dunkle 1989) helps retain some of their color, but the brilliant eyes fade to a uniform tan. Their wings become shiny, wrinkled, and brittle. Indeed, adult dragon-domens in the same plane, although the Lestidae or spread winged damselflies present the same problem as dragonflies. They also are less likely to fly while the photographer is framing the shot. However, their long abdomens can extend beyond the focal plane of the camera if the photographer is not careful to keep them parallel to the lens. Cluttered backgrounds also can make the intricate wing venation of all odonates difficult to see.

published proceedings

  • American Entomologist

author list (cited authors)

  • Mitchell, F. L., & Lasswell, J. L.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Mitchell, Forrest L||Lasswell, James L

publication date

  • January 2000