The Hidden World Of Cute Damselflies Enchanted This Photographer

Hatched in local ponds and living among garden plantings, these cousins of the dragonfly captured the photographer’s attention and imagination.

First they were looking at him—and then he started looking back. Photographer Remus Tiplea noticed the damselflies perched on foliage in his garden in Negresti-Oas, Romania. Staring with bulging eyes, the delicate insects looked inquisitive, Tiplea thought, and a little imposing. Long afternoons photographing damselflies became his summertime ritual.

Often territorial, male damselflies will battle over the same leaf or flower. After extensive observation of the insects, Tiplea says he can tell when a battle is imminent.

Tiplea says photographing damselflies is often easier in the morning, when the light is soft and the air is usually still. In rain or bright sun, he shields the fragile insects with an umbrella.

Through hours of watching, Tiplea learned the behaviours of the damselflies, a close relative of dragonflies but with slimmer bodies and narrower wings. He observed when they got hungry, when they reproduced, and what caused them to suddenly take flight. He saw how they behaved in rain and how they chose where to sleep. With time, he could tell their gender and the dominant qualities in mate selection. If he saw multiple damselflies in one frame, he’d have a few seconds to shoot before they’d show themselves as territorial rivals (by starting to fight) or lovers. “They would ignore me completely,” he says.

When his garden population is low, Tiplea captures damselflies at a neighbouring pond.

As years have passed and summers have grown warmer, Tiplea has noticed fewer damselflies at his garden pond. “Their number is inconsistent,” he says—but “the important thing is that we are together in the same backyard.”


Lead Image: Left: A damselfly—one of photographer Remus Tiplea’s favourite summer subjects—obligingly pauses in front of a blue inflatable kiddie pool. Right: When the weather is warm, Tiplea spends hours in his garden in Romania, looking at damselflies. Occasionally he catches their eyes staring back.

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