Wild Fact #801 – The Dragon’s of the Insect World – Dragonfly
I have been waiting for quite some time to complete a post on the Dragonfly and what could be a better time then to close out Insect Week here at Wild Facts? I actually saw my first Dragonfly of the year on my holidays and I love seeing them since it usually means a decline in the population of black flies and mosquitoes. So sit back and let’s learn about one of my favourite insects.
As I briefly mentioned the dragonfly is a large predatory insect that will feed on mosquitoes, bees, flies and other small insects. Even the larvae stage (also known as a “nymph”) of the dragonfly feeds on small aquatic insects and eggs. The adult dragonfly is absolutely harmless to humans, however, in the larvae form they will produce a nasty bite if you give them the opportunity. I personally think that the larvae form is the most interesting aspect of the dragonfly and I will explain why below. What are you still doing reading this paragraph? The interesting stuff is in the next paragraph… sheesh!
The dragonfly nymph lives exclusively in the water and some species may live in this form for up to five years. Let’s see, at five years, that would put them in Senior Kindergarten. Just like graduating kindergarten and going to grade one this nymph will decide to graduate and turn into the adult form. At this time they will leave the water by crawling on some emergent vegetation. This exposure to the fresh air actually starts their breathing process. Soon enough their body will begin to crack open and the adult dragonfly will emerge out of this body. I have had the privilege of witnessing this process and I have to tell you, it is pretty impressive. Everyone makes a big fuss about the beauty of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly but I think the dragonfly is far better. I have included a picture of the larvae form below. Just think about the whole process. When it is time the dragonfly will actually emerge leaving this aquatic body behind. Pretty cool eh?
Dragonfly Fast Fact – Fossils of dragonflies exist that are over 200 million years old. These dragonfly fossils have a wingspan of 2 feet. This makes me wonder how big the mosquitoes and black flies were back then! Today the largest dragonflies live in Costa Rica but they only have a wingspan of 7 and a half inches.