Damselfly larvae (nymphs) are aquatic, slender, usually drab insects, with 6 thin legs, large eyes, and small wing buds on the back of the thorax. The 3 gills are leaflike or paddlelike and positioned in a tripod configuration at the tip of the abdomen (unlike the gills of the related dragonflies, which are hidden within the tip of the abdomen). The lower jaw is scooplike and covers most of the bottom part of the head.
Adult damselflies have very slender, elongated abdomens, delicate bodies, and 2 pairs of wings that are typically held together over the body. The wings are membranous and elaborately veined. The hindwing is about the same size and shape as the forewing. The eyes are compound, large, but usually do not touch. The antennae are short. The 6 legs are poor for walking but good for perching. Many damselflies have brilliant, gemlike colors.