facts about dragonflies

43 Delightful Facts about Dragonflies

It probably sounds unbelievable, but the truth is that dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, 300 million years ago. Dragonflies, also known as darners or devil’s arrows are living on every continent but Antarctica. These insects are well-known for their large bodies, four long, horizontal wings, and their specific way of hovering and zipping around. Flying helicopter-style dragonflies can reach speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. And that’s not all!

To keep you informed at all times we’ve prepared these interesting facts about dragonflies, so the next time you’ll notice them hovering around in your back yard you’ll see them in a different light! They’re the acrobats of the insect world and, with their striking colors, are a true sign of summer in the garden.

  1. Fossil dragonflies have been found with wingspans of up to two feet unlike modern dragonflies with wingspans of only two to five inches.
  2. Around 7,000 species of real dragonflies are alive today, and, together with the closely related damselflies, they form the group Odonata.
  3. Dragonflies are hard to catch, which makes it hard to conduct tagging.

facts about dragonflies

  1. Scientists have trailed migratory dragonflies by fastening tiny transmitters to their wings with a combination of eyelash adhesive and superglue.
  2. Many species of dragonflies, gather in swarms to feed or migrate. Why? Possibly to protect themselves against predators, but researchers don’t know that for sure.
  3. The dragonfly’s head has enormous compound eyes, which contain 30,000 features, each bringing in information about the insect’s surroundings.
  1. 95% of the life cycle of a dragonfly is spent underwater.
  2. The females lay eggs in or near water which usually hatch after a few weeks whilst the eggs of some species lie dormant over winter.
  3. The hatched larvae feed on live prey including small fish which may be larger than themselves.
facts about dragonflies

Baby dragonfly

  1. As the larvae grow they cast their skins up to 15 times.
  2. When the water warms up and the day length gets longer the fully grown larvae climb up marginal vegetation or out onto a bank and cast their skin to emerge as an adult.
  3. The newly emerged dragonfly takes a while to pump fluid into the wings and abdomen.
  4. It can take several hours for the wings to harden before it can take its maiden flight, find a mate and start the cycle all over again.
  5. Dragonflies have practically 360-degree vision.
  6. They’re great fliers. They’ve got two sets of wings so they can fly straight up or down, backward, upside down, and hover.
facts about dragonflies

A dragonfly eating a bee

  1. Dragonflies are amazing hunters.
  2. In their larval stage, they live in the water and eat anything that comes near them, including aquatic insects, tadpoles, and small fish.
  3. As adults, they eat flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, butterflies, flying ants, and even other dragonflies, which they catch while they’re in flight.
  4. They don’t simply chase down their prey, they hitch them from the air with estimated aerial ambushes.
  5. Dragonflies can estimate the speed and trajectory of a prey target and regulate their flight to intercept prey. They’re so skilled they have up to a 95% success rate when hunting.
  6. They’ve got an impressive ability to rip apart prey takes their predatory prowess to another level.
facts about dragonflies

Producing eggs

  1. Thankfully, dragonflies can’t bite humans. Most of the species don’t have mandibles strong enough to break our skin.
  2. In the life-cycle of all dragonflies, there are three stages: egg, larva, and adult.
  3. During egg-laying, male damselflies, chasers, skimmers, and darters guard the females with which they have just mated, either by staying linked ‘in tandem’ or by flying in close attendance.
  4. Some female damselflies submerge completely to lay their eggs, often using their still-attached partner to pull them up again afterwards.
  5. Eggs hatch within 2–5 weeks or the following spring, if we’re talking about the emerald damselflies and some hawkers and darters.
  6. Dragonflies spend most of their lives in their larval stage.

facts about dragonflies

  1. A typical dragonfly larva has six legs, wing-sheaths, and an extendable hinged jaw that can shoot out in an instant and catch prey.
  2. A dragonfly larva can become a victim of predators, counting another dragonfly larva, fish and waterfowl.
  3. Experiencing incomplete metamorphosis, dragonflies aren’t like other winged insects, such as butterflies.
  4. In their final stage larvae sit in shallow water, for several days, getting ready for their final molt and starting to breathe air.
  5. After they find secure support, they reallocate their body fluids, pushing the thorax, head, legs, and wings out of the larval skin.
  6. The dragonfly’s first flight (maiden flight) is weak and typically covers only a few meters.
facts about dragonflies

By the water

  1. When mature, adults move back to the water to breed.
  2. The life expectancy of adults is short, typically no more than a week or two, but sometimes they can last 6–8 weeks.
  3. Adult dragonflies have voracious appetites and can be observed hunting other flying insects, particularly small flies, on sunny days.
  4. Dragonflies need protection from pollution to habitat loss. Thankfully, there are sanctuaries around the world.
  5. The United Kingdom got its first dragonfly sanctuary, the Dragonfly Centre, in 2009.
  6. Dragonfly enthusiasts also can visit a sanctuary in the Dragonfly Sanctuary Pond in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
facts about dragonflies

Snacking

  1. The dragonfly does a great job in helping humans by controlling populations of pest insects, especially those that bug us most, such as mosquitoes and biting flies.
  2. A single dragonfly can reportedly eat anywhere from 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.
  3. They also inspire us to create new technology — from drones to artificial visual systems — based on their incredible skills at flight and vision.
  4. The least we humans can do to return the favor is to support the conservation of their habitats so they can continue for another 300 million years.

Do you have any interesting or fun facts about dragonflies that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!

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