Damselflies are typically smaller then dragonflies which can make it more difficult to identify them. They are divided into three families, broadwinged damselflies, spread-winged damselflies and pond damselflies. Broad-wings and spreadwings are usually a bit larger and easier to identify. Pond damsels are kind of a catch all family and is comprised of dancers, red damsels, Aurora damsels, Eurasian and American bluets, sprites and forktails. It can be difficult to distinguish many of these species from each other unless you have them under a magnifying lens or microscope. One exception to this is the variable, or violet, dancer. The male variable dancer is the only damselfly in this area that is fully purple. The females are more difficult to distinguish as they are usually brown in color and look similar to females of other species. The variable dancer is common in the eastern two thirds of North America. Here in Minnesota they are pretty rare. They are usually only found in the eastern part of the state. I believe that when I photographed this one it might have been a county record.
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