Damselflies display a huge variety of fascinating behaviours, including many courtship displays. When courting a female, the male damselfly is essentially trying to show off his fitness, and one way of doing this is through aerial displays. These may include hovering in front of the female, beating their wings in a certain way, or flying quickly and close above water. Alternatively, males may attempt to exhibit their vibrant colours. Particularly brightly coloured bodies and wings, wing spots, legs of a certain colour, and even flattened tibia in some Platycnemididae may all be seen as indications of fitness.
Damselflies are cool blooded creatures, and so naturally have adapted to display some thermo-regulatory behaviours. Damselflies will usually emerge in late morning and settle down for the night around early evening when it becomes cooler. If a damselfly is too hot during the day, they may adopt the obelisk posture: the act of pointing the abdomen towards the sky in order to reduce the surface area exposed to solar radiation, and thus cool down. Moreover, wing-clapping, when a damselfly slowly opens then swiftly closes its wings several times consecutively (often before taking flight) may be a way of maintaining body temperature. Wing-clapping is different to wing-warning, which involves the more rapid and aggressive opening and closing of wings. They usually spend the night perching within dense foliage.
In general during the day, damselflies spend less time flying than their relatives the dragonflies. They spend a lot of time perching when they are not hunting or engaging in reproductive endeavours. Damselflies primarily feed on small insects, which they often pluck off vegetation with their barbed legs. Male damselflies can be very territorial and hostile to each other, and some species may engage in flights of attrition. This is when two males fly side by side and slam into one another until the loser surrenders.
A damselfly perching within dense foliage.
Female copper demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) in the obelisk posture while another female looms in the background. They subsequently engaged in a physical battle for this perch.
A female copper demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) engages in wing-clapping (likely a thermo-regulatory behaviour).