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Many books about dragonflies have appeared on the scene in the last few years.  This list, while not all inclusive, will give you a good start to your library.

Field Guides

While most of these may not quite fit in your pocket, they can be carried with you and are designed to help you in field identification of dragonflies and damselflies.  Many are directed at a local or regional audience, but may be helpful to people in nearby areas or just as a helpful reference.

General North American Field Guides

Dunkle, Sidney W.  Dragonflies through Binoculars.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2000.
      I use this book personally --it is a must have!  It covers the 307 known North American species.  It has everything you need to know to get started learning about dragonfly biology, habitats, and identification.

Lam, Ed.  Damselflies of the Northeast. New York: Biodiversity Books, 2004.
        Although touted as a guide to the northeast, from Canada to Virginia, this wonderfully illustrated book covers most species found in the eastern half of North America.  With extensive use of detailed paintings and line drawings, this guide sets a new standard for field identification of odonates.  Don't leave home without it!

Nikula, Blair and Jackie Sones.  Stoke's Beginners Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies.  New York:  Little, Brown, and Company, 2002.
      This book discusses the 100 most common dragonflies and damselflies of North America.  The book organizes the dragonflies by family and characteristics for quick and easy reference.  Also, it is loaded with many color pictures.

Paulson, Dennis. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009.  New
This fairly new field guide covers some 348 species of odonates found in western North America. It has information such as flight seasons, habitats, odonate conservation, tips on identification, life cycle and many other bits of general information. It's photographs are clear and stunning. This field guide can also be used as a supplement to other field guides on odonata of Central and South America, since Dennis has included many species native to these areas.  I highly recommend this guide to the beginner as well as the experienced odonologist.

Regional Field Guides

Abbot, John C. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.
    This book sets a new standard in field guides to odonata, especially in helping the observer sort through similar species.  Although the range maps and flight season information is specific to the south-central part of the United States, the identification text and illustrations cover 263 species, more than half of the species in North America.

Barlow, Allen Bangma, Jim,  Golden, David. Fieldguide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey.  New
This book was developed by the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife. This is an excellent source for those living in or planning on visiting New Jersey. The guide covers 182 species of New Jersey odes with detailed identification on both male and females. It contains information on specific habitats, distribution, flight periods and conservational status of species.

Biggs, Kathy.  Common Dragonflies of California:  A Beginner's Pocket Guide. Sebastopol, CA: Azalea Creek Publishing, 2000.
     Covers 77 species of dragonflies and damselflies, contains 117 color photos.  Also contains description of habitat, flight patterns, and dragonfly behavior.

Biggs, Kathy.  Common Dragonflies of the Southwest:  A Beginner's Pocket Guide. Sebastopol, CA: Azalea Creek Publishing, 2004.
     Covers 129 species of dragonflies and damselflies, contains 350 color photos.  Addtional black & white line drawings illustrate damselfly appendages. Includes descriptions of males, females, habitat, flight periods and distribution. Checklist of ALL 189 SW species included.

Curry, James R.  Dragonflies of Indiana.  Indiana:  Indiana Academy of Science, 2001.
     Containing over 250 photos, this reference guide is very good for identification purposes.  It covers the 97 species of dragonflies found in Indiana.

Dunkle, Sidney W.  Dragonflies of the Florida Peninsula, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.  Washington D.C.  Scientific Publishers Nature Guides, 1990.
      Out of print but invaluable if you can find it, this book is chock full of photos and has a great amount of information on characteristics for identification.

Glotzhober, R.C. and D. McShaffrey (Editors). The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ohio. Ohio Biological Survey, 2002.
        A comprehensive treatment of the 162 species of odonata found in Ohio.  Includes keys, photographs, scans, and line drawings.  Available with either stitched or spiral binding.

Johnson, Ann. Dragonflies and Damselflies in Your Pocket - A Guide to the Odonates of the Upper Midwest. (Bur Oak Guide). Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2009.
This well organized pocket guide represents 50 of the most stunning species of odonates in the Upper Midwest. Included are color photographs with emphasis on characteristics for quick and easy identification, flight seasons, habitat and other general information. This informative pamphlet is written using both common and scientific names making it ideal for the beginner as well as the experienced dragonfly watcher.

Legler, Karl and Dorothy Legler with Dave Westover.  Dragonflies of Wisconsin.  Wisconsin:  n.p., 2003.
      Covers the breeding habitats, life histories, and flight patterns of 107 dragonflies and damselflies.  This guide has many color photos and line drawings and is great for dragonfly enthusiasts in the Upper Midwest.

Manolis, Tim. Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. CA: UC Press, 2004.
        The first comprehensive guide to all 108 species known to California.  Includes full-color plates, line drawings, range maps and checklists.

Mead, Kurt. Dragonflies of the North Woods. Minneapolis: Kollath-Stensaas Publishers, 2003.
        Covers all 102 species of dragonflies and some common damselflies found in the North Woods of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario.  Photos, bar charts, and concise identification information.

Nikula, Blair, Jennifer Loose and Matt Burne.  A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts.  Published by Massachusetts Wildlife's Natural heritage and Endangered species Program. 2003.
    This fairly new field guide is 200 pages with color photos of 166 species, many of which are found throughout the northeast.  The guide includes information on habitat, life history, ranges, behavior and flight periods with emphasis on key characteristics necessary to identification.

Paulson, Dennis.  Dragonflies of Washington.  Seattle:  Seattle Audubon Society: 1999.
       All 76 of the region's dragonflies and damselflies are introduced in this guide.  This is a great discussion of Washington dragonflies habitat, anatomy, and an introduction to dragonflies as a species.  The photography and text are excellent and easy to follow.

Rosche, Larry, Judy Semroc and Linda Gilbert.  Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio, Second Edition.  Cleveland, OH:  Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 2008.
      This second edition is completely redesigned and superbly illustrated.  Although touted as a guide to northeastern Ohio, it is a "must have" for odonate enthusiasts from the Appalachians to the Mississippi.

Guides for Outside North America

Foster, Steffen.  Dragonflies of Central America.  n.c:  n.p., 2001.
      Informative guide to Central American Dragonflies

Hamalainen, M.  Atlas of the Dragonflies of Thailand.  Thailand:  A. Pinratana, 1999.
       Many descriptions and photographs of the species of Dragonflies of Thailand.

Manuals and Textbooks

Not specifically geared towards field ID, these may include information on behavior and ecology or may include detailed information for in-hand ID.

Needham, James G., Minter S. Westfall, Jr., and Michael May.  The Dragonflies of North America.  n.c..  Scientific Publishers, 2000.
      The book covers 250 species of dragonflies throughout North America.  The ID information in this book is best suited to in-hand and with magnification.  A knowledge of dragonfly anatomy and scientific names is helpful.  Currently the standard desk reference for dragonfly ID.

Westfall, Minter J. and Michael May.  Damselflies of North America.  n.c., Scientific Publishers, 1996.
     This book is most useful in laboratory study as well as in the field, and covers all 161 species of damselflies.  The information in this book is best suited to in-hand and with magnification.  Knowledge of anatomy and scientific names helpful.

Corbet, Phillip S.  Dragonflies:  Behavior and Ecology of Odonata.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.
     This is a very necessary book to own!  It contains extremely detailed descriptions of the behavior patterns and ecology of dragonflies.

General Reading

Silsby, J.  Dragonflies of the World.   CSIRO Publishing, 2001.
This 224 page hard bound book written for amateurs as well as the more experienced odonatologist covers topics such as evolution, ecology, behavior, physiology and taxonomy.  The text is easily read and the book is illustrated with more than 300 colorful photographs of dragonflies and damselflies.  Dragonflies of the World is also available in CD-ROM.

Brooks, Steve.  Dragonflies. The National History Museum, London, 2003
This 96 page book has stunning color photos and a comprehensive introduction to the world of odonates including lifecycle, morphology and behavior.  It describes interactions between humans and insects and suggests projects for reader participation, such as building a garden pond and recording dragonfly distributions.

Paulson, G.S., and R.D. Akieand E.P. Catts.  Insects Did It First
This book is written for the general audiences but might be of special interest to educators.  It is highly recommended for young children and adults alike ages 3-30.  It is packed with illustrations, cartoons, and is written in a humorous manner.  Go to the website to view examples from this book:


Argia.  Quarterly news journal of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas.  Devoted to non-technical papers and topics.

Bulletin of American Odonatology. Published by the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, this more technical journal is available by subscription to members and non-members.

ODONATOLOGICA is a publication of original papers in all fields of odonatology and is the official journal of the International Odonatological Foundation.

© 2021 Sheryl Chacon Search