Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum


Photo credit: Tang Hung Bun


Odonates are insects that include the damselflies and dragonflies. These insects have well-developed compound eyes and are adept at detecting small movements. They possess two pairs of transparent wings that are able to move independently of each other, giving them great manoeuvrability when flying. Odonates are fierce predators of smaller insects, possessing legs that adapt to form a basket to catch prey while flying. They are in turn, important food sources for many predators, especially birds, spiders and robber flies.

The order Odonata comprises the suborders Anisoptera (dragonflies) and Zygoptera (damselflies). Dragonflies are strong fliers with fairly robust bodies, whereas damselflies are weak fliers and their compound eyes are set distinctly apart.

More than 120 species of odonates have been recorded in Singapore. They are mostly found in forests, wasteland, parks and gardens, with at least two species living in mangroves. Four families of at least 79 species of dragonflies and ten families of 44 species of damselflies are recorded in Singapore.

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