Field guide for Texas damselflies highlights diversity of fascinating insects

May 04, 2011
A page from Dr. Johnn Abbott’s “Damselflies of Texas” illustrates a few of the state’s swampdamsels.

A new field guide for damselflies by University of Texas at Austin entomologist John Abbott is the most comprehensive guide for identifying the colorful insects that flit about streams and ponds around the state.

“Damselflies of Texas” covers the 77 species of damselflies in Texas. Because more than half of the 138 North American species of damselflies occur in the state, the guide can be considered very useful for the entire United States.

“Damselflies are the generally smaller and daintier counterparts to dragonflies with which most people will be more familiar,” says Abbott, curator of entomology at the Texas Natural Science Center and the Brackenridge Field Lab. “Despite their smaller size, they are actually often easier to see and study because they are not as strong a flier as dragonflies. The two largest groups of damselflies in North America are very similar and field observers often get frustrated trying to identify them. This book provides ample illustrations and descriptions, along with comparative figures to help separate and identify these similar species.”

The book was illustrated by Barrett Klein, a former graduate student in the ecology, evolution and behavior program at the university. Klein employed a unique technique that combines digital photographic scans and illustration to reveal the beauty and details of the .

Abbott, who has been studying Texas dragonflies and damselflies for 20 years, spent countless hours gathering information for the book, collecting specimens, taking photographs and documenting species distributions around the state.

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More information: www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/abbdap.html

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