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Dragonflies and Damselflies: A Natural History


By Dennis Paulson

A fun new book from Princeton University Press provides a great introduction into the world of dragonflies and their generally smaller cousins, the damselflies.

I have always been interested in bugs, and along with tiger beetles, dragonflies are one of my favorites.  With names like the Swift River Cruiser and Dragonhunter who could not be at least a little curious about these amazing fliers.

The book is hard copy and about 9″ x 10″ in size and contains many full-page full color photographs.

Dragonflies and damselflies are often called birdwatchers’ insects. Large, brightly colored, active in the daytime, and displaying complex and interesting behaviors, they have existed since the days of the dinosaurs, and they continue to flourish. Their ancestors were the biggest insects ever, and they still impress us with their size, the largest bigger than a small hummingbird. There are more than 6,000 odonate species known at present, and you need only visit any wetland on a warm summer day to be enthralled by their stunning colors and fascinating behavior. In this lavishly illustrated natural history, leading dragonfly expert Dennis Paulson offers a comprehensive, accessible, and appealing introduction to the world’s dragonflies and damselflies.

The book highlights the impressive skills and abilities of dragonflies and damselflies—superb fliers that can glide, hover, cruise, and capture prey on the wing. It also describes their arsenal of tactics to avoid predators, and their amazing sex life, including dazzling courtship displays, aerial mating, sperm displacement, mate guarding, and male mimicry.

Dragonflies and Damselflies includes profiles of more than fifty of the most interesting and beautiful species from around the world. Learn about the Great Cascade Damsel, which breeds only at waterfalls, the mesmerizing flight of Blue-winged Helicopters, and how the larva of the Common Sanddragon can burrow into sand as efficiently as a mole.

Combining expert text and excellent color photographs, this is a must-have guide to these remarkable insects.

•    A lavishly illustrated, comprehensive, and accessible natural history that reveals the beauty and diversity of one of the world’s oldest and most popular insect groups
•    Offers a complete guide to the evolution, life cycles, biology, anatomy, behavior, and habitats of dragonflies and damselflies
•    Introduces the 39 families of dragonflies and damselflies through exemplary species accounts
•    Features tips on field observation and lab research, and information on threats and conservation

Dennis Paulson is one of the world’s leading experts on dragonflies and damselflies and has watched and photographed his favorite insect on every continent. He is the author of the major field guides to North American species, Dragonflies of the West and Dragonflies of the East (both Princeton), and has written more than fifty scientific papers on the group. Now retired from his position as the director of the Salter Museum of Natural History at the University of Puget Sound, he lives in Seattle.

Available for $29.95 from Princeton University Press.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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